While the Patriots were not on TV yesterday, I of course still watched a few of the games at home while cleaning my apartment. One of my favorite commercials during the past few Sundays is for Verizon FiOS featuring a little sister who leverages FiOS to show up her brother with her football knowledge landing a gig on NFL Sunday as an analyst. It brings a new meaning to “Play Like a Girl.”

Girls who participate in sports have better grades, higher self esteem, and are healthier than girls who don’t. I have a young audience on YouTube and frequently am asked by girls around the age of 13 what they should do for exercise and my answer is always, “Join a sports team!”

At Cassey’s Boston meet up, I came to the realization that times have changed. Girls in middle and high school are no longer playing on athletic teams like they used to. Their exercise comes from videos like mine and Cassey’s. While I’m happy that I can provide a free resource, I’m also a little sad that they are missing out on what largely shaped me as a hard working, independent woman today.

I grew up playing many sports including swimming, tennis, softball, gymnastics and soccer. The majority of my time was spent playing soccer. I was on a travel team throughout grade school, joined a club team in 7th grade and continued throughout High School.

I only stepped into a gym a handful of times during November to stay in shape between the end of soccer season and winter track. This workout consisted of 20 leisurely minutes on the elliptical (hah).

Playing team sports growing up taught me many things. One of the most important lessons being that your coach or leader is never your favorite person. This forced me to handle criticism and demonstrate perseverance. Despite wanting to quit because I didn’t like my coaches, I never did. Butting heads with my boss as a teenager and in my first post college job, could have been a reason for quitting but I stuck it out and became a better worker as a result.

One of my favorite memories as a young athlete is from 5th grade. My travel soccer team was in the finals of a Memorial Day soccer tournament. I was playing goalie in the second half and at the end of regulation and 2 overtimes, the score was still tied. I was selected to be my team’s goalie for a shoot out. I remember being paralyzed with nerves at first as I did not deal well with pressure. I might have even cried I was so nervous. The first girl kicked the ball over the upper crossbar. The second girl kicked the ball right to me. At this point two of my teammates had scored so if I saved the last shot, we would win the large trophy we all wanted. The final player on the opposing team to shoot aimed for the lower left corner of the net. I stretched my body out long and was able to block the shot while fully stretched out. My team won! I was on cloud 9 and felt like the best soccer player in the history of 5th grade. I was given the game ball and my parents saved it until just a few years ago. This moment in my life really boosted my confidence. Despite being nervous, I went out there and gave it my best shot. I didn’t always come out on top but I learned how to handle my nerves.

Verizon is leveraging this football season to promote FiOS as the technology that empowers you to be part of the game. They want to hear from parents who are proud of their daughter’s athletic achievements by sharing a video or photo here, to be entered to win a $5,000 deluxe sports and tech equipment package.

I know my parents would have surely entered my game winning performance.

The #PlayLikeaGirl contest provides a place for parents to show off their pride and share the empowering impact that sports can have on the lives of girls.

Join the conversation at www.verizon.com/playlikeagirl where you can share your proud stories and daughter’s athletic achievements for a great prize that includes a $1,699 digital camera, brand new laptop and $1,800 in gift cards.

Verizon FiOS gives your family the connection and speed you need to play with the big boys. Share your proudest moment of your daughter’s athletic achievements at www.verizon.com/playlikeagirl. You could be chosen to win a grand prize valued at $5,000!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Verizon. The opinions and text are all mine.

Play Like a Girl Contest ($5,000 prize)

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