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The Atlanta Hawks hosted EmpowHER, where more than 100 girls between the ages of 8 and 14 got the opportunity to interact with WNBA star Renee Montgomery and College Park Skyhawks general manager Tori Miller over Zoom.

Basketball has long been considered a “boy’s game” but the Atlanta Hawks are working to change that with their Lady Ballers Program.

They hosted their first Hawks at Home program on Wednesday called EmpowHER, where more than 100 girls between the ages of 8 and 14 got the opportunity to interact with WNBA star Renee Montgomery and College Park Skyhawks general manager Tori Miller over Zoom.

The topics ranged from favorite quarantine snacks to how to stand up for what you believe in and the two women had answers for every question that the girls threw their way.

Blake Johnson, senior coordinator of community basketball programs for the Hawks, said that when the club started planning the event that Montgomery and Miller were obvious choices.

She wanted the girls to hear from Montgomery because of her extensive basketball background but also because of her dedication to the social justice movement. She wanted Miller to speak because she is a trailblazer in the G League as the first woman to become a general manager.

“We want to make sure that we have positive female role models but also that the programming really is all about inspiring the girls and making it known that you can continue to participate in sports and be girly or not be girly whatever it is that you want,” Johnson said ahead of the event. “Sports can provide life skills all the way through your entire career.”

Montgomery talked about those life skills and how they have followed her.

“You don’t know the lessons you’re learning," she said. "You don’t know that you are learning to be a good teammate. You don't know how they are building your confidence. You don't know all the discipline that it gives you. All these things employers love. I didn't even know these things that I was getting as I was growing up, but now that I am an adult, it has been everything for me.”

Miller added that she is a firm believer that hearing no and failing teaches a person how to win.

Johnson’s goal for the Lady Ballers Program is to get a corporate sponsor so that it can increase its engagement and reach to provide more opportunities for more girls.

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