Here’s how Project Play in Pontiac is helping girls pursue their athletic dreams

‘I know what sports has done for me, I know the confidence it’s given me, I know the opportunities as I played sports in college, and so I hope one day these girls will have the same opportunity I had’

Hundreds of little girls got the chance to explore their athletic prowess in Pontiac Friday with Project Play. Project Play encourages girls to pursue a variety of sports before they reach an age where many tend to drop out.

PONTIAC, Mich. – Hundreds of little girls got the chance to explore their athletic prowess in Pontiac Friday with Project Play.

Project Play encourages girls to pursue a variety of sports before they reach an age where many tend to drop out.

Friday (Aug. 12) was all about girl power as the next Serena Williams or Brittney Griner could’ve been in attendance as many of the girls are talented.

“When I first started playing, I was so nervous, people were making fun of me, and one night, I blew up, and I didn’t focus on the haters,” said 11-year-old Londyn Mason.

Mason doesn’t think twice about hitting the courts anymore as she just loves to play, and Project Play hopes to inspire little girls like Mason to pursue their athletic dreams.

“I played basketball because a coach said to me one day, ‘would you like to try basketball’ and it was that invitation that got me playing sports,” said Director of Project Play Alana Glass.

Glass says she’s paying it forward.

“I know what sports has done for me, I know the confidence it’s given me, I know the opportunities as I played sports in college, and so I hope one day these girls will have the same opportunity I had,” Glass said.

Regardless of their ability or socio-economic status, 300 girls spent the day playing basketball, tennis, and volleyball.

“If they don’t get opportunities, they won’t know what’s out there,” said mom Eisha Branner.

The girls range in age from five to 13, and that’s because studies have shown many girls drop out of sports at around 14 years old.

“Most of my friends have quit sports, but I won’t,” said 12-year-old volleyball player Shila Crooks. “(I won’t quit) because sports helped me a lot. (Sports) keeps me out of trouble, and it keeps me busy.”

Over a dozen partnering non-profits across Southeast Michigan received checks for $2,000, ensuring girl-power events like Project Play keep running.

“You know, I think it’s fun,” Branner said. “I have another daughter, and she’s like, ‘I want to learn everything.’”

“It’s so empowering, and it makes me feel good that she looks up to me in that way,” said mentor Isabel Hickson.

“I have to look up to her because she’s nice and cool,” Mason said.


About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.