Finding inspiration in sports

Hailey Rose Gattuso with Mary Wilson, wife of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. and founder of the Western New York Girls in Sports program.

It’s rare to find a wealthy, influential woman dancing Zumba or playing tennis with elementary school girls. But that’s exactly what happens when Mary Wilson hosts her Western New York Girls in Sports program.

Mrs. Wilson is the wife of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. As you can imagine, having wealth and being in the spotlight puts her in the position to help many people. Sports are dear to her heart because she played tennis at a professional level and her mother was a physical education teacher. She uses what she has to give young girls the opportunity to enjoy and learn from them too.

Several hundred students came to the event and rotated from station to station participating in volleyball, softball, cheerleading, tennis, Zumba, and fitness exercises. Healthy refreshments such as water and bananas were also available.

Mrs. Wilson asked one of the girls if she plays any sports.

“No, but I’d like to,” the girl said.

“Well, find one today!” Mrs. Wilson told her.

The event was meant to serve that very purpose – to help girls find sports that they take an interest in.

“You have to be inspired,” Mrs. Wilson told me. “I think of myself of a 9 or 10-year-old and it’s something I’d want to do.”

Mrs. Wilson used this event to show how important she considers sports to be to both physical and mental health. She talked about how being on a team can especially teach athletes socialization, integrity, how to win, and how to lose.

“There is a lot of winning and losing in life,” she said.

Leaving the interview I found myself thinking, Well isn’t that the truth? Think about it. When it comes down to even some of the simplest things, you can win or lose, and how you handle either outcome reflects you as a person.

Whether it’s a job application, a college application, or asking someone on a date, the results are either in your favor, or they are not. Playing sports teaches you to win humbly in all situations, and teaches you integrity when you lose.

The socialization involved with playing sports is unique to any other relationships you will form in life. When you play a sport that you love, your team becomes your second family. You don’t get to choose your teammates, but you love them anyway because you bond over the one thing you have in common; your passion for the sport.

Mrs. Wilson recognizes what valuable lessons and relationships come with playing a sport you love, and makes it her mission to give young ladies that opportunity.

— Hailey Rose Gattuso
LSY! sports editor, Mount St. Mary Academy

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