Basketball is not just for boys. Girls can run, sweat, yell, and shoot hoops just like boys — in some instances they’re even better. For Hayden Armstrong, a 6-year-old Cambridge resident, the Harvard-UMass women’s game Sunday (Jan. 2) at Lavietes Pavilion left quite an impression.
Armstrong was one of a number of girls and boys from Cambridge and Allston-Brighton who, along with their families, cheered the Crimson to an 83-70 win. The game capped a series of three Community Days sponsored by the Harvard men’s and women’s basketball teams that offered free admission to Cambridge and Allston-Brighton residents over the winter break. The Harvard men hosted Allston-Brighton residents on Dec. 29 and Cambridge residents on Dec. 31. The Harvard women’s team hosted neighbors from both sides of the Charles on Jan. 2.
For those ushering in the New Year at Lavietes Pavilion, the Crimson-UMass match was an explosion of talent, teamwork, and athleticism. The Crimson players were cheered on by their teammates on the sidelines and the crowd. At halftime, Hingham’s sixth-grade team took over the court to show their stuff.
In the second half, Harvard withstood a late UMass rally, securing the victory. But the excitement lasted well beyond the final buzzer. Crimson players came out on the court to pose for photos and sign autographs. Armstrong made her move.
Holding her mom’s hand, she approached Brogan Berry ’12, the Crimson’s starting point guard. Berry, Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2008-09, didn’t hesitate one moment. She got down on her knees and talked basketball with the young fan.
For Berry, being a role model for local girls is as important as scoring.
“Growing up I always wanted to be as good as the boys,” said Berry. “Seeing girls at the high school and college level really inspired me to get out there and show that girls can be just as good as the boys. I want to provide the same inspiration to younger girls.” And she does.
“Mommy, can you sign me up on the white-shirt team,” said Armstrong, walking away.
The Harvard women’s and men’s basketball and hockey teams regularly host neighbors and offer free admission for youths 12 and under during the winter season.
Upcoming community events include: Free admission for Cambridge residents on Jan. 7 for men’s hockey vs. Brown; kids enter free on Jan. 15 for women’s basketball vs. Penn; and free admission for Cambridge residents on Jan. 21 for women’s hockey vs. RPI. Residents must show their ID at the game for admission.