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As a Varsity Coxswain at Dallas United Crew (DUC), Pavi Paila is not afraid to speak up. On any given day, this high school senior directs the launch, practice, race and recovery of four- and eight-man shells. Responsible for steering and execution in a race, Paila knows that her voice – by directing pressure on either side of the shell – can be as effective as the rudder in changing the direction of the boat. So, when Dick’s Sporting Goods created a platform to amplify youth voices, Paila got the call.  

Roaring Voices: Empowering Youth in Sport is part of the sporting-goods retailer’s 75th anniversary celebration. Dick’s Foundation set the lofty goal of identifying seventy-five deserving youth sports organizations to award a $75,000 Sports Matter Grant. RowDallas, DUC’s outreach program, was one of chosen 75for75 organizations.

Dick’s Foundation focuses on how sports change lives. Citing the Women’s Sport Foundation and Aspen Institute’s Project Play, Dick’s elevates the positive outcome of sports for kids: Student athletes are less likely to be depressed; those in team sports are less likely to smoke cigarettes or use illicit drugs; physically active children get up to 40% higher standardized test scores; and student athletes are more likely to get higher grades and aspire to attend college. 

Held virtually on March 21st, Roaring Voices aimed to unite the 75for75 organizations to celebrate and acknowledge their initiatives and contributions. On the Celebration Panel, Paila engaged with expert speakers from the Dicks Sporting Goods Foundation Team, participated in breakout sessions centered on program design and communications, and explored networking opportunities with experts and peers. “Rowing at Dallas United Crew has been so much more for me than just an after school sport. DUC is my home away from home. Honestly it’s elevated my highschool experience more than I can put into words” says Pavi Paila

DUC’s RowDallas exists to break down barriers and provide access to rowing, a sport where kids in underserved communities are historically priced out. Through rowing and academic coaching, DUC’s RowDallas helps kids gain fitness, purpose, and a feeling of belonging so they can succeed both on and off the water.  “Rowing presents a wealth of opportunity to youth athletes, including the opportunity for a college scholarship, but many of our neighbors have never heard of it. RowDallas brings the sport to the kids at their school and gets them to the boathouse. It is often the first step to where Pavi is today,” says DUC Executive Director, Austin Brooks.

After graduation and competing in her final high school race with DUC, Paila, like so many DUC rowers, will don a college rowing uniform, though she is still deciding which one. So far, eight of her nine DUC female teammates have already signed letters of intent with NCAA Division 1 college programs

DUC is now registering for its Learn to Row Summer Camps and the opportunity to welcome prospective rowers, who like Pavi may give voice to how sports matter.

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