March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by spotlighting the women at Asphalt Green who are expanding access to sports, fitness, and play for girls and women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.  

All around the country, barriers to play are keeping too many girls and women on the sidelines. 

  • Annually, boys get 1.13 million more sport opportunities than girls -- National Federation of State High School Associations
  • By age 14, girls drop off sports at twice the rate as boys--Women in Sports Foundation
  • In 2019-20, only 30% of the overall recruiting dollars in college sports went to female athletes, while male athletes also received $252 million more in athletic scholarships--Gatorade Sports Science Insititute  
  • The percentage of adults who met both physical activity guidelines was higher among men (28.3%) than women (20.4%) and decreased with age for both men and women--(CDC) 

Providing sports, fitness, and play opportunities not only helps improve physical and mental health outcomes but can also set girls up for success outside the field of play. According to EY, 94% of women executives have a background in sports. 

Today, Asphalt Green is a premier destination for girls and women’s sports and fitness programs, and we’re working to keep more girls in the game. Between our AGUA swim, sports, and fitness programs, Asphalt Green his home to thousands of female athletes and fitness enthusiasts.  

Read on to learn more about three Asphalt Green women who are leading the fight!  

Jennifer Polzak, Director of Membership & Fitness, Battery Park City 

What does Women’s History Month mean to you? 

It’s a month that allows women’s stories to be highlighted, that have been buried through the absence of our presence in history books. It celebrates that women are vital contributors and leaders in our society, even if we always weren’t getting the credit. (Who do you think birthed all the founding fathers!?) 

How has Asphalt Green made strides in expanding access to sports, fitness, and play for girls and women? 

AG has paved the way for girls and women of all ages to run, play, lift, kick, spike, and swim there way to a healthier version of their self. Whether it’s a girl participating in our Recess Enhancement Program (REP), or Waterproofing, or an athlete competing on one of our competitive teams, they all have strong women coaching and mentoring them through their journey. 

Can you describe the girls or women's programming you run at Asphalt Green?

I oversee our Membership and Fitness departments. I have strong female leaders on my membership team, and strong women Personal Trainers and Group Exercise instructors. We have a new fitness offering for women only – “Strength Training for Women”. This 6-week program has received such great feedback. And it doesn’t get any better than seeing these women, get stronger, by learning from another strong woman. 

Learn More & Join Strength Training for Women

Shakia Ortiz, Community Programs General Manager  

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?  

Women's History Month celebrates resilience, diversity, and the enduring spirit of women who have shaped our world. This month holds a special place in my heart as a celebration of women's remarkable achievements and strength because it coincidentally aligns with my birthday month. I often joke that I was destined to be a strong, empowered woman, considering I entered the world during a month dedicated to celebrating them. It's a time to reflect on the struggles and triumphs of women like my mother, who was my biggest inspiration; she overcame barriers and paved the way for me. This month is a reminder of where I come from and the potential of where I can go, fueled by the strength and legacy of remarkable women. 

How has Asphalt Green made strides in expanding access to sports, fitness, and play for girls and women?  

Asphalt Green has made significant strides in expanding access to sports, fitness, and play for girls and women by implementing inclusive programs and initiatives. These programs provide opportunities for physical activity and promote empowerment, teamwork, and leadership skills. AG has also actively worked to create a welcoming and supportive environment for female athletes of all ages, ensuring fair access to resources and coaching. Also, community outreach and scholarship programs have made sports and fitness more accessible to girls and women from diverse backgrounds, contributing to a more inclusive and fair sports culture. 

Can you describe the girls or women's programming you run at Asphalt Green?  

I have played a crucial role in managing female play coaches for the Recess Enhancement Program. I recognized the under-representation of women in this area, so I have always worked towards changing that. My focus has been recruiting, training, and empowering more women to take up these vital positions. By increasing the number of female play coaches, we can provide strong role models for young girls and promote gender diversity and inclusion within our programs. This initiative is a significant step towards ensuring that girls participating in our programs see themselves reflected in the leaders and mentors guiding them. 

Learn More About REP

Maria Gerena, Community Programs General Manager 

What does Women’s History Month mean to you? 

Women's History Month holds a deep significance for me as it celebrates women's remarkable contributions and achievements throughout history. It is a time to honor the resilience, strength, and determination of women who have broken barriers, challenged stereotypes, and paved the way for future generations. It is also a reminder of the ongoing journey towards gender equality and the importance of amplifying women's voices in all aspects of society. Women's History Month inspires reflection, appreciation, and continued advocacy for gender equality and inclusion. 

How has Asphalt Green made strides in expanding access to sports, fitness, and play for girls and women? 

Through our initiatives at Asphalt Green, we have made significant strides in expanding access to sports, fitness, and play for girls and women. Recreational programs include youth sports and Coed community sports leagues that have actively welcomed girls by providing opportunities to engage in various athletic activities. Additionally, our community fitness opportunities have been designed to be inclusive and accessible to individuals of all genders and ages, encouraging active participation and promoting healthy lifestyles. We are committed to fostering an environment where girls and women feel empowered to pursue their athletic passions and thrive in sports and fitness. 

Can you describe the girls or women's programming you run at Asphalt Green? 

I am proud of our community soccer program, which I oversaw and was led by Yaliz Campos, previous Soccer Coordinator, during our rebuilding period following COVID-19. We had the opportunity to build an inclusive soccer curriculum for our coed participants in our after-school programs, community recreational clinics, leagues, and our community sports league. 

We offer a Coed program designed specifically for elementary and middle school students and provide a supportive environment where girls can learn, grow, and excel in the sport. Offering a platform for girls to work with dedicated female athletes and coaches, showcase their talents, and compete alongside their peers in a fun and competitive environment. We strive to foster a love for soccer while promoting teamwork, sportsmanship, and personal growth in young female athletes of all ages. 

Learn More About Our Community Sports Leagues