Washington Post

National Girls and Women in Sports Day was Wednesday. Playing sports is important for girls because studies show that female athletes do better in school, have more confidence and get into less trouble than girls who don’t play sports.

By playing sports, girls also learn about teamwork and trying their best. Those lessons will help them in anything they decide to do.

To celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day, I spoke to an amazing athlete: Sasha DiGiulian. Who’s she? She’s a 22-year-old champion rock climber who grew up in Alexandria. DiGiulian has made some of the most difficult climbs in the world. She also works with Up2Us, an organization that promotes sports as a way of helping kids who face serious challenges.

Here’s what she had to say about sports and climbing.

KidsPost: When did you start rock climbing?

Sasha DiGiulian: I started when I was 6 years old. My older brother had a birthday party at a Sportrock Climbing Center, and I went along. Soon I was going once or twice a week. When I was 8 years old, I stumbled upon my first climbing competition and won the 11-and-under group. That’s when I realized climbing could be a sport and not just a hobby.

KP: Did you play other sports growing up?

SD: I competed as a figure skater and did ballet. I also swam, played soccer, ran track and skied. But those sports fell by the wayside as I got into climbing. In high school I practiced climbing about two hours a day, five days a week.

KP: What do you like about climbing?

SD: I like the individual aspect of climbing. In climbing, it is all up to you.

KP: Is climbing dangerous?

SD: Not if you know how to use your equipment. I climb in a harness with a rope and clips that attach me to a bolt in the rock.

KP: What’s the best part about climbing?

SD: The feeling you get when you reach the top. You feel like you are on top of the world. I also get to travel. I have been to 32 different countries to compete and do outdoor climbs.

KP: You are a professional climber and you’re studying writing and business at Columbia University in New York. How does climbing help you with your studies?

SD: Sports are great to teach you how to set goals and be determined. Climbing also teaches you how to solve problems by breaking a big assignment into smaller pieces. You don’t make a 100-foot climb all at once. You take it a little at a time.

KP: What would you tell kids who might want to try climbing?

SD: Go to a local climbing center and give it a try. If you like it, you may find a sport that will give you a community and make you healthier.

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