This one thing could keep your tween girl in sports

Thanks to Chris Deacon for her excellent journalism in the Sept 6 issue of Today’s Parent. Her article follows!

Studies show that girls start quitting sports in the tween years—this solution might surprise you.

Growing up, Juanita Lee ran track and rowed, but her sport of choice was tennis. She played the game from age six until age 14 when— seemingly overnight— her breasts grew from a 32A to 34DD.

The change immediately set her apart from her more petite, flat-chested opponents and made the teenager extremely self-conscious. She hated the sensation of her breasts moving when she ran on the court and how exposed she felt in her scoop-neck tennis dress whose padded cups only accentuated her size. And because breasts move independently of the body, (both up and down and side to side,) Lee also started experiencing breast pain, an issue she was too embarrassed to discuss with her parents. Not long after, Juanita used a sports injury as an excuse to quit tennis altogether and turned her attention to rowing, where breast movement wasn’t an issue, and running, a sport that—while still painful—meant she could wear baggy t-shirts for coverage.

Lee isn’t the only girl whose breast development has affected their participation in sports. In a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 British girls aged 11 to 18, nearly three-quarters said their breasts got in the way of enjoying sports. According to the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, when girls hit puberty they start pulling out of athletics and skipping gym class to avoid the pain and embarrassment of breasts that are either too big, too small or —the chief complaint—too bouncy.

It turns out there could be an easy fix—a sports bra. While a given for professional female athletes, this undergarment is often omitted from the equipment list of girls’ sports teams. And while jockstraps are offered to boys for protection and to prevent discomfort caused by excessive movement during exercise, sports bras that serve the same purpose for girls have not been a part of the cultural conversation. In fact, only 10 percent of girls surveyed in the British study had worn one.

So how can a parent navigate the tricky terrain of breast development and sports with their tween? Here are five tips:

Start the conversation early: Your daughter may not need the support of a sports bra yet, but it’s worth tackling the topic early on, before she gets embarrassed about it. If she’s not ready for the discussion in the moment, MaryAnne Gucciardi—whose company, Dragonwing girlgear specializes in performance base-layers such as sports bras and support tops for girls aged 8 to 17, encourages parents to stick with it. “It’s a hard conversation for a parent,” she says, noting that dads in particular, have a hard time with the topic, “but it’s even harder for a child. They don’t know yet what they need. They just know what they’re feeling.”

Be matter of fact: Gucciardi also suggests sticking with the facts when broaching the idea of a sports bra. “You could say something like, “I want you to play your best. I want you to feel comfortable, and have good support to prevent injury and stay healthy and just like boys with a jockstrap for support and to prevent injury, this is what girls wear,’” she says. Explain to you daughter the difference between your average tween bra (which often looks like a sports bra) and the real thing. Most tween bras are made with thin cotton and flimsy straps. A good sports bra, by contrast, has smooth but stretchy fabric that moves as the athlete moves, with straps and a band that stay in place.

Shop it alone: While the odd girl might enjoy looking for a bra with her mom, most don’t, says Gucciardi, so parents should start the process. One idea, she says, is to buy a few different styles of sports bras and support tops and leave them in your daughter’s drawer—while keeping in mind she probably won’t model them for you. “She might have you hand them back and forth until she finds one that she likes,” she says, “Be patient. If you let her control the conversation, then she’ll feel in control of her body.”

Go for fit: Thirteen-year-old Melanie Paulson’s* parents have been helping her shop for sports bras since she started developing breasts in Grade 4, with little success. “I don’t find them very comfortable,” says the avid hockey player, who now shops in the women’s section. But many women’s sport bras are padded which makes breasts look bigger—the last thing most tweens and teens want. And Gucciardi cautions that an improper fit—caused by a bra that’s too big— can lead to back problems. “You could have a bigger bust but a small rib-cage,” she explains, suggesting that parents seek out sports bras that are specifically designed for tweens and teens, and that take this silhouette variation into account so that the fit is precise. Lululemon, Nike and Gucciardi’s brand all carry quality sports bras for this age group. Look for a fit that is snug but not tight with straps that don’t droop or slip. And if you’re buying online, it’s worth taking the time to measure your daughter and refer to the size chart rather than order the size that corresponds to her age. Parents should measure just under the rib cage to get the right fit as opposed to across the chest, and, when the bra is on, be able to fit not more than one finger under the band. The band should be as wide as possible while still being comfortable for your child.

Comfort is key: Gucciardi recommends quality sports bras that use high performance, moisture wicking fabric (that moves the sweat away from the skin) with mesh for coolness and breath-ability. “Girls get super embarrassed when they think they sweat and smell and that people notice it,” she says. Also look for thin, removable pads for coverage and softness. “Nipples showing is another source of embarrassment,” she says. Nipple chafing— especially common with runners— is also an issue. Finally, choose a sports bra that’s seamless and tag-free to prevent irritation.

Now that you’ve got a bra for your daughter, can you really expect it to be the difference between giving up sports and staying in the game? For Juanita Lee, now 27, the answer is—absolutely. “I was kind of a shy kid and I never felt comfortable saying, ”oh, my boobs hurt.” she says. In grade 10, Lee got her first sports bra at the suggestion of her female rugby coach, and she played rugby until the end of high school.

*Name has been changed.

The “why” of Dragonwing girlgear.

kickstart_bannerPeople often ask me why I am so passionate about sports and girls and I have a simple, important reason – we need this generation of girls, now more than ever, to reach their potential.  Sports participation at any level is one path to actualizing potential –it is established and proven – we don’t need to create a new program or study its benefits.  But social expectations and social media are getting in the way of girls.  When I realized “the underwear experience” could have an impact, I had an aha moment that I could do something about it.

Let’s take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.  On one level of the pyramid is community or village – we all know and accept that it takes a village to grow a strong confident girl.  We are happier with friends, family, a team, a tribe.  Belonging is important.   Connections give life meaning (Brene Brown).  Sports provide a natural community.

The next level of the pyramid is self-esteem.  Sports build self-esteem in so many ways, such as setting and achieving goals, graciously winning, building resilience, pushing your comfort zone for what you think you can do and then exceeding it – just to name a few. For more on this, check out this TedEx talk by Alisa Herr.

Unfortunately, feelings about breast development are a top reason girls drop out of sports.  According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concerns regarding exercise and sports.”   75%!!!  That’s just not acceptable.  Starting and normalizing conversation about body changes can improve this.  Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but there is no comparable list recommended for girls. At Dragonwing girlgear, we provide girls that list and more.

Having an excellent-fitting, high-performance sports top – whether it is a bra, cami or thermal tee-shirt, that is designed especially for the athletic girl’s figure, can eliminate worries about underwear malfunction.  Embarrassment about changing bodies can alleviate concerns about body image.  At Dragonwing, we strive to free up emotional energy– so girls can focus on their game – and everything else they want to achieve… because when girls are confident, the possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

Navigating the Child to Tween to Teen Bra Journey with Ease

If you’re anything like me then you have absolutely NO recollection of your first bra-buying experience as a tween 30 years ago. I wish I remembered it as being either a horrific or a pleasant experience because then I’d at least have had a starting point at which to get my daughter comfortable with the topic of wearing a bra. But, no – I had nothing. Not a single point of reference from which to start. Add to that the fact that my daughter is strong-willed and opinionated (not in a bad way, but prominent traits none-the-less) and I was literally at a loss of where and how to start this process.

Enter Dragonwing girlgear. Dragonwing offers a nice progression of undergarments for girls passing from child to tween to teen. Following is an outline of a progression that might work for your daughters.

Un-Tee cami sports top (camisole with inner shelf bra) in 7 colorsI started my process perusing the undergarment sections of stores like Target and Old Navy. I was determined to have my 11-year old wear age-appropriate undergarments that she would still be comfortable being in around her friends and teammates if that situation arose. While I’m sure we could have found acceptable solutions at those stores, I knew that my daughter was also VERY shy and going to a store and picking through racks of bras was not going to be her cup of tea so I bought a bunch and had her try them on at home. She hated how they stopped in the middle of her rib cage and refused to wear them because they didn’t “go all the way down” to her waist. So began my search for a full-length top with a built-in bra. I measured my daughter and started my online shopping research. While on Amazon I bumped into Dragonwing and, as I usually do, I went straight to the main Dragonwing website instead of purchasing through Amazon. I find the main websites have a larger selection of products so I always start there, and then depending on prices and options I may purchase from Amazon if there’s free shipping. I was pleasantly surprised to find both at Dragonwing – free shipping and a larger selection than was on Amazon. A win-win.

The first bra that caught my eyes was the Un-Tee Sports-Cami. It was PERFECT! Not only did it “go all the way down” but it also had a built in shelf-bra that functioned as more than just a second layer of fabric (which is what most cami’s have and they’re useless). It was of a very high quality and after learning more about them I came to understand that some girls can wear these all the way up through 7th or 8th grade!
This bra gave my daughter the confidence to wear it without her belly being “exposed” and got her used to the idea of a bra that cuts across your rib cage – because we all know that’s just a fact…bras stop below your breasts.
She’s been wearing these Un-Tees for over a year now and they’ve been washed a million times. They’ve been a wonderful first bra experience for my daughter.

half-teeAbout six months into her wearing the Un-Tees, I dropped some of the Half Tee Sports Tops into her drawer. The Half Tee is essentially the inside layer of the Un-Tee Sports Camis and they fit exactly the same. I figured that once my daughter was used to wearing the Un-Tee she might migrate easily to the Half Tee and she totally did! Before I knew it she was wearing them all the time – even beneath her gymnastics leotards and I was dreading that conversation because most of the sports bras girls wore under their leotards were uncomfortable to her.

the-keyhole-white-frontAnd, while we’re still on this bra journey together, I am finally comfortable with our path and that my daughter will have a pleasant experience. There are so many other, more important things I want to focus on with my daughter that I don’t want things like wearing a bra to muddy the waters! I’m actually looking forward to her next bra steps – which I’m sure will include either the School to Sport Bra or the Keyhole Sports Bra – and while I don’t know if she’ll remember this experience 30 years from now, I AM confident that Dragonwing has had a very positive impact on my daughter’s life and well-being.
Here’s to you and your daughter starting your journey! Hopefully this was helpful.

Contributed by customer Naomi Marr14199296_10209347712106579_1201097066114495733_n

Un-Tee Sports Cami Raves

Our Un-Tee Sports Camis have been flying off the proverbial shelves here at Dragonwing girlgear HQ!

Girls love the way they fit and feel under school and sports uniforms and “everyday” clothes. Snug but not tight with just the right amount of support and coverage.

Adrienne, a blogger and mother of 10- and 13-year old daughters, was so delighted with her girls’ Un-Tees that she posted a review on The Momalog Facebook Page.

Momalog_reviewA

Adrienne’s full review was a bit longer. I’ve posted it here because it didn’t quite fit so well on the image:

Moms of tween/teen girls and athletes:
Have you been looking for solid, comfortable, well-made undergarments for your daughter to wear under her uniforms, for sports, dance, under tank tops etc.. but can’t find the quality?
I just bought some items from Dragonwing girlgear (basic white tank undershirt w. built in bras) for my tween & my teen and these products are AMAZING! And built to last.
My daughters love these.

Thanks, Adrienne!

Our Un-Tee Sports Cami is available in a range of sizes and colors.

Un-Tee cami sports top (camisole with inner shelf bra) in 7 colors

Review: Athletic Gear for Tweens

Tami M., aka The Colorado Mountain Mom, recently shared her excitement at discovering Dragonwing girlgear. After her tween daughter  wore  our  Chill Weight capri leggings and Un-Tee Sports Cami for gymnastics and running for a whole month, Tami announced, “We love Dragonwing girlgear!”

“Making active wear clothing for tween girls to feel comfortable and special is such a great concept.  If you’re encouraging your daughter to learn to live an active lifestyle, it helps to inspire them by providing not only the opportunities, but the gear they can use to feel confident and strong.”

CoMtnMom_600

 

What was the Dragonwing Difference for Tami and her pre-teen daughter?

– “Much nicer quality than the cheap athletic capris for kids, typically found at retailers.”

– “Softer, more durable, longer lasting, better fitting, and much more comfortable!”

Dragonwing girlgear capri leggings are tween daughter's favorites.

– “They quickly became her absolute favorite pair. She says they feel noticeably different, better, than all her other capris.”

– The Un-Tee Sports Camisole is “soft, comfortable, and again… much nicer quality than the cheap options sold in most stores like Target or Walmart. Plus it comes in a rainbow of fun colors!”

Soft, comfortable, supportive camisole tank top for active tween, teen

 

As a mom, I love that with one Dragonwing Girlgear “outfit”, she has the needed active wear gear for two different sports, both running and even gymnastics. These versatile pieces could really be worn for any tween girls’ athletic endeavor.

Read Tami’s full review at her terrific blog, The Colorado Mountain Mom.

 

Getting Girls Off the Sidelines & Into the Game

With much of the world’s eyes and screens tuned in to the World Cup, Wall St. Journal reporter Patricia Kowsmann wrote powerfully about how girls in Brazil are often left on the soccer sidelines.

Her personal story of being bullied as a young girl for wearing boys’ soccer cleats really hit home for me. It touched at the core of why I started Dragonwing girlgear.

The sad truth is that, for most girls who play sports, the only high quality clothing — that wicks moisture and doesn’t chafe — is found in the boys’ section. Or the women’s section where sports bras don’t fit girls.

All too often, girls are forced to choose between the right gear for their sport OR lower-quality apparel — like a cotton bralette — that isn’t designed for playing sports.

Girls who play sports aren’t “tomboys;” they’re athletes and deserve to have comfortable, supportive clothing — sports camis, compression shorts, and sports bras — that helps girls play their best. That’s what we do every day at Dragonwing girlgear.

 

 

 

Are you ready for Spring Soccer Season

It’s mid February and the soccer club teams in North Carolina are gearing up for the spring season. Emails from coaches and team managers are starting again.

It’s time to organize.

Parents are going through soccer bags, looking at cleats, shin guards, practice t-shirts, and all the other items that will be worn. What still fits? What has been outgrown? Cold temperatures are still present. Does my daughter need another good item for layering? Wicking tops such as those available at Target or Khols provide a low cost solution – however, I am willing to spend a little more for better fit, comfort and performance after the multiple washes the top will undergo – so, I’m having my daughter try out the Chill Weight Long Sleeve Tee from Dragonwing girl gear. Okay, gear is accounted for a list made of new items to purchase.

Onto the next item – update the family calendar that is found on our refrigerator to remind us all where to be when.

Questions start with – when are practices, games and tournaments? Emails are probably received at least several times a week, roughly 2-3 times. The first one is typically a schedule for the week that consists of reminding the team what day of the week regular practice will be held and at what time and at what location. The next communication may be an update to any changes due to weather – say it rains and, at least in North Carolina, unless you are practicing on turf, rain often results in practice cancelations – the dense-clay-like soil can only absorb so much. And, then if there is a weekend game, a reminder email outlining day, time and location of game with specific instructions about getting to the field at least 30-45 minutes ahead of time.

Highly organized team managers tend to be the most effective with timely communications and incredible with follow up. I have always found that I have become very dependent on them – unless they tell me exactly when, where and what time – I’m scrambling.
Pressure on a team manager? – perhaps or rather, yes.

What tools exist to help team managers keep their team’s a well-oiled machine? Yes.

Many team managers may have their own approach; a system they have used based on previous management experience, relying on what’s worked and what has not. There are also online tools that help managers with centralization of information that includes a calendar of events, a way to send our automated emails to team members/parents – and a good example of such a tool is TeamSnap.com – an online tool to manage teams and/or groups. Features include creating team homepage, having a centralized location for contacts and a shared calendar. Start with a free subscription to figure out if it’s right for you.

I look forward to hearing how you start organizing for the new season – and if you have used any online tools that are particularly remarkable and why.

Good luck to all your teams this season.

January 24: Happy Birthday, Mary Lou Retton!

Happy birthday to Italian-American Mary Lou Retton, the first female gymnast from outside of Eastern Europe to win an Olympic gold medal in the all-around event (1984 Olympics). Besides four other Olympic medals- two silver and two bronze- Retton is also a two-time American Cup winner and a 1997 International Gymnastics Hall of Fame inductee.

Aries Apparel! Special 15% Back-To-Soccer In Store and Online Promotion ends September 30

Check out the Back-To-Soccer Sale now on at Aries Apparel.

Dragonwing girlgear ™ (the first line of athletic sport and support wear designed for young sporty girls ages 8-17) announced that Portland, OR based Aries Apparel (a women and girls-only athletic apparel/footwear/accessories/equipment retailer) is now carrying the full line of Dragonwing girlgear ™ merchandise in stores.

“Like Dragonwing girlgear, Aries Apparel believes that strong, healthy girl athletes need high quality performance apparel,” states MaryAnne Gucciardi, Founder/President of Dragonwing girlgear. “Aries Apparel customers can now find our product in stores and online — and we think that is a winning combination for our customers.”

Diana Marsden, Founder/Owner of Aries Apparel, states “Our decision to offer customers the complete line of Dragonwing girlgear merchandise underscores our dedication to passionate, confident, and dynamic female athletes of all ages and abilities.”

Created by Soccer Mom and entrepreneur MaryAnne Gucciardi, Dragonwing girlgear ™ is the first performance line designed exclusively for pre-teen and teen girls. With unique sizing, high-tech moisture-wicking fabrics, age appropriate support and comfortable fit, Dragonwing girlgear ™ cammies, sliders and sports bras help girls play their very best — whether they are on the soccer field, lacrosse field, basketball court, volleyball court , or other athletic venue.
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About the Dragonwing girlgear Founder/President:
MaryAnne Gucciardi, Soccer mom and Entrepreneur, is on a mission to help girls become confident women! Contact her at Maryanne@dragonwinggirl.com.

About Aries Apparel Founder:
Aries Apparel was founded by Diana Marsden, mother of two athletic daughters. After many frustrating years trying to shop for athletic basics year-round, she recognized that they were not the only females out there with no choice, selection or options when it came to their athletic wear. The marketplace is dominated by male-oriented sports stores and girls are an afterthought. That’s changed now!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ariesapparel
Twitter: @ariesapparel
Blog: http://ariesapparel.wordpress.com/