First-Ever Softball Sports Diplomacy Program Sends Olympians to Nicaragua to Empower Women and Girls through Sports

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 29, 2013

The U.S. Department of State announced today that U.S. Olympians Jessica Mendoza and Ruby Rojas will travel to Nicaragua January 31 – February 5 as part of its global initiative to empower women and girls through sports. For the first time, the Department – in partnership with USA Softball – will engage underserved girls in Esteli and Managua, Nicaragua on the softball field. Mendoza and Rojas will lead clinics for athletes and coaches as well as spearhead discussions on leadership and the importance of health and wellness.

Mendoza, who serves on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports, is a two-time Olympian, world softball champion, and inductee in the Latin Sports Hall of Fame. She has also served as President of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Before her career as a softball coach at Mount San Antonio College, Rojas played for the University of Virginia and the Venezuelan National Softball team.

The Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative aims to increase the number of women and girls involved in sports and to share the lessons of Title IX – the landmark legislation in the U.S. that afforded women equality and opportunity through sports – worldwide. It is comprised of three pillars: sports envoys (American athletes who travel overseas); sports visitors (youth athletes and coaches who travel to the U.S.); and the cornerstone of the initiative, the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program.

This initiative builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” which embraces the full range of diplomatic tools—in this case, sports—to empower women and girls and foster greater understanding. Click here to learn more.

PRN: 2013/0087