Two-time U.S. World Cup champion Gina (Oliver) Thomas is now the head coach at the University of Cincinnati.

Today marks the 34th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day. The confidence, strength and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls and women need to become strong leaders in sports and life.

Throughout the day today, US Lacrosse will be celebrating the Women Sports Foundation’s National Girls & Women in Sports Day initiative with inspirational quotes and thoughts from some of the leading voices in the game as we celebrate this year’s theme — Lead Her Forward.

US Lacrosse will host live chats with U.S. national team players Taylor Cummings (4 p.m.), Kylie Ohlmiller (7 p.m.) and Liz Hogan (9 p.m.) on the U.S. women’s national team Instagram channel (@usa_wlax).

We also caught up with former U.S. team player Gina (Oliver) Thomas, a two-time World Cup champion (2009, 2013) who graduated from Ohio State. Thomas is now the head coach at the University of Cincinnati where she led the Bearcats to a 12-win season and a trip to the American Athletic Conference championship game in 2019. She shared her thoughts on how lacrosse has led her forward.

Lacrosse has provided me so many opportunities to travel the world, build relationships, and develop young women! I was fortunate to have so many great mentors in this game. I hope to inspire and impact the lives of young women as much as my life has been impacted. 

Coming from a non-traditional lacrosse high school and being a black woman in the sport, I always felt like I had something to prove. More to myself than others, but I felt confidence was critical to have knowing that I had a lot of odds against me. I knew I had the athleticism, I just had to work to prove that I was a lacrosse player instead of just an athlete playing lacrosse.

Again, I had looked up to players and icons like Tina Sloan Green and Cherie Greer. I felt they carried themselves with such class and respect, that I felt that if I could just mirror what they have done in the game, that would be more than I’d hoped for. 

I’ve always loved the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” That was how I built my strength and character in women’s sports.  At the core of who I am determines my path. Not what’s in the past or what’s next. That’s me!

We welcome you to share your stories and join US Lacrosse in celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day.