WEST ORANGE, NJ — Members of the West Orange High School (WOHS) girls basketball team joined the nation in observing the 33rd Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) through their own event on Thursday at the WOHS Tarnoff Gymnasium, where they defeated Great Bridge Christian Academy, 57-27, and supported the district in recognizing the outstanding female athletes of WOHS.

Observed nationwide during the first week of February each year, NGWSD celebrates girls and women in sports and pushes all to realize their potential while also raising awareness about the importance of equal opportunity in sports, according to the NGWSD website. This year’s theme for NGWSD was “Lead Her Forward,” which showcases the ways that girls and women in sports continue leading future generations into a brighter future through their extraordinary achievements.

Assistant WOHS girls basketball coach Nicole Fleck, who served as the event’s master of ceremonies, acknowledged the achievements of several girls sports teams throughout the night. Women and girls of all ages throughout the West Orange community and beyond attended the event—many of them taking shots at the hoops during half time for prizes.  

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Among those honored and invited to participate in the “Celebrity Half Throw” were event chair Chelsea Capstraw, whose daughter, Kiley, plays on the basketball team, and fellow NGWSD committee member Michele Schultz, whose daughter, Kaya, plays both basketball and soccer for WOHS.

“I’m so happy that West Orange is one of the high schools that really shows the significance of having this day for the past three years,” said Capstraw, adding that events like these are important because girls need to “understand that they have a place in sports,” and that sports have more benefits than simply keeping people physically active. “It teaches you how to work in a team, overcome adversity and how to push yourself beyond the limits that you didn’t even know you were capable of exceeding.”

Assistant girls basketball coach Doug Nevins echoed these sentiments, stating that events like these “are so important to the girls in our town and across the country.”

“We hope to inspire young ladies to play sports or whatever else they dream of,” said Nevins, father of WOHS basketball and soccer star Natalie Nevins. “We want them to gain confidence and grow as people in everything they do.”

He added that he hopes his daughter and all other girls realize they can do anything boys can do.

Capstraw also mentioned that organizing this event was a “total team effort” that she could not have done without the help of head girls basketball coach Caniece Williams, her fellow committee members—Tamara Wilkes, Sandra Bembry, Natalie Cline, Eleanor Barnes, Michele Schultz and Rene Walters—and members of the girls junior varsity teams.

Some local dignitaries in attendance on Thursday were West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) Vice President Sandra Mordecai, WOBOE members Cheryl Merklinger and Terry Trigg-Scales and West Orange Councilwoman Michelle Casalino.

In addition to concessions that were donated by Jersey Mike’s and Chipotle of East Hanover, members of the WOHS girls soccer team also sold West Orange gear during the event, including bracelets, magnets and scarves.

Members of the following teams were acknowledged during the event:

West Orange Girls Indoor Track and Field for earning several medals and Girls Championships for the Essex County Indoor Relay

West Orange Cheerleaders for heading to the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Championships after taking home top prizes at the Empire Regional Competition.

West Orange Girls Varsity Soccer for accomplishments this fall, including:

  • SEC American League Champs
  • Essex County Champs
  • North 1 Group 4 State Sectional Champs
  • Finished #4 in NJ
  • #20 in the country for Top Drawer Soccer
  • 8 players earned All Super Essex American Division Honors
  • NJ.com Coach of the Year – Sean Devore
  • 2 All-State Players
  • Super Essex Player of the Year – Natalie Nevins

Girls Wrestling for winning top prizes in various tournaments in its inaugural year.

Girls Lacrosse who are set begin their first season as the newest girls sport on March 1.

Click here for more photos from the event provided by West Orange Schools Communications Director Cynthia Cummings.