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.
In 2003, New York Sharks owner, Andra Douglas, established the Fins Up Foundation for Female Athletics as a 501(c)3 not-for-profiit partner 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, never forgetting and always honoring our tribute to 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 appointed Chief Operations Officer 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.
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!
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.
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 Sara Thomas and Annice Canady join us to teach the participants the basics of officiating.