History of The Fins UP! Sports Camps for Girls

"The words "Fins Up" denote bravery, courage and fortitude."


Our girls football camps all began back in 2002 at Cow Meadow Park on Long Island. The inaugural camp was made a reality by the devoted teammates of an amazing young woman named Sharon Pascale. #51.

Sharon was a much loved member of the New York Sharks Women's Pro Football Team. On Christmas eve, 2001, she was killed in a tragic car accident that would forever change the lives of those who knew her. Sharon loved playing the game of football and was equally passionate about teaching it to others. As a tribute to Sharon, the Sharks created a football camp where young girls could learn the sport of football from the women who played for the Sharks and hence, the Sharon Pascale Girls Football Camp was born.

Sharon Pascale

Sharon Pascale

 

In 2003, New York Sharks owner, Andra Douglas, established the Fins Up Foundation for Female Athletics as a 501(c)3 not-for-profiit "sister" organization to the NY Sharks. Under the Foundation, sports camps expanded into football camps, added a speaker's bureau, and several other community-based services - all focused on teaching under-served young girls, aged 12-17, not only the sport of football, but essential life skills.

 

In time, the camps became known as the Fins Up Girls Football Camps, honoring the tragically short, yet large life lived, of our beloved Sharon Pascale.

 

In September of 2015, the leadership of the foundation decided to take yet another leap in the expansion of its programs and services. While retaining the name of the camps as the Fins Up Girls Football Camps, the foundation merged its efforts and goals with those of Rich Daniel, longtime GM and now current owner of the DC Divas women’s football team, and formed the Women's Gridiron Foundation. Dana Sparling was named Executive Director to oversee day to day operations. This organizational change  brought together some of the most motivated and seasoned individuals in the sport of football to help expand our community based programs around the United States.... and the world.

  

Somers Youth Sports Organization Girl's and Women's Flag Clinics

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Somers, New York - February 6th, 2021 - Present
SYSO commissioners Katie DiChiaro and Jennifer Kisslinger reached out to us in late 2020 and asked for our administrative guidance and coaching expertise with their brand new girls flag football program.

 

Having crafted carefully thought out Covid protocols, we held the first of what would be 3 clinics in early 2021 at Solaris Sports Indoor Facility in Somers, New York. Our all female coaching staff was comprised of former NY Shark and current NY Wolves tackle players. Having female coaches was of paramount importance to both Katie and Jennifer as they wanted their girls to see that not only playing football was an option, but coaching as well.

We held an outdoor clinic for the girls of SYSO in May of 2021, building upon the knowledge and skills f`rom earlier sessions and transitioning into formations, play design, rules and game strategy.

In late August, 2021, we held our first ever "Not your Kid's Football Clinic" for adult women connected to the SYSO program. This new programming was so well received, that we had a waiting list for the clinic within 5 days and then no one wanted to stop playing when the clinic was scheduled to end so we played for another hour !! What a fabulous day of football, sisterhood and laughter! The next adult women's clinic is scheduled for November 20, 2021
 

-- Dana Sparling, Executive Director

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Clinic for the Staten Island Girls Flag Football Program

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The Foundation hosted and produced this clinic specifically for our Football Sisters of the 2019 National Championship title winning Staten Island Girls Flag Football Teams!!

Players from the New York Wolves coached the event and we were also joined by the New York Guardians president, Janet Duch. The Guardians were kind enough to donate some cool giveaways for all of the girls.

Special thanks to Coach Mike Colt for assisting in pulling the day together. His dedication to his girls is truly inspiring.

-- Dana Sparling, Executive Director

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Clinic Photo
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(L) Janet Duch, NY Guardians President with (R) Dana Sparling, COO of WGF

Fins Football Camp Herstory

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The March 2007 football camp took on herstoric proportions when then Fins Up Foundation Executive Director, Andra Douglas, forged a relationship with the NFL and the their J.P.D. (Junior Player Development) program. The collaboration resulted in the first EVER JPD program camp for Girls, ages 14-17 and took place at the NY Giants practice facility!

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In November 2009 while volunteering in the Giants VIP tent prior to a game, Shark volunteers met Taya Wyss, future wife of NY Giants lineman, Adam Koets. After the game, Taya invited the Shark players to meet Adam and a few other players. The rest is Herstory. A wonderful and supportive friendship formed between everyone and for the next three years (2010, 2011 and 2012) of camps, Adam joined our volunteer coaching staff and worked with our participants.

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HERSTORY of another kind was made at the 2013 and 2014 Camps when the Fins Up Foundation forged yet another partnership: this time with the NFL's W.O.N. (Women Officiating Now) program and their leadership team, led by Vanessa Streater and Terrell Canton. The W.O.N. presence added an officiating component to the camp. We were fortunate enough to have such trail blazing female NFL officials as Sarah Thomas and Annice Canady join us to teach the participants the basics of officiating.

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