The world’s top-ranked female triathlete, Katie Zaferes, an Olympic silver-medalist cyclist, Mari Holden, and Ally Friedman, a Ross School senior who in February was cited by the United States Tennis Association as its junior volunteer of the year, mentored Theresa Roden’s I-Tri girls on Saturday.
It was the fifth of the internationally recognized empowerment program’s annual Mentoring Days, which customarily take place at the East Hampton Middle School, though, because of the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing required, the gathering was a virtual one in the form of a Zoom meeting that attracted 120 participants.
Ms. Zaferes, 30, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., and who was looking forward to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, which have been put off until August of 2021, told the girls not to let disappointments get them down, to persist in their physical and mental training, to visualize the results they wanted, and to stay connected with their peers through social networks.
Initially inspired by Ms. Roden, and by Mark Crandall of Hoops 4 Hope, Ally, an I-Tri alum who since seventh grade has been a Ross Tennis Academy student, has developed and overseen there for the past couple of years a 12-week tennis, health, and empowerment curriculum for 7 through 12-year-old girls. Its 18 participants, she said in these pages in January, had improved greatly on all fronts.
Indeed, her senior project had gone so well, Ally said, that she might make that kind of mentoring a career eventually.
Jennifer Fowkes, I-Tri’s development and events manager, said in an email that Mentoring Day also included “breakout sessions” in which the girls, who were asked to dress up as women they looked up to, spoke about them.
“There were seven Ruth Bader Ginsburgs,” Ms. Fowkes said. Michelle Obama, nurses, doctors, an elder sister, last year’s keynote speaker, the Rev. Tisha Williams, and “Everywoman” were also thought worthy of admiration by the I-Tri girls.
“One of our board members came dressed as our founder, and our founder came dressed as one of the alums,” said Ms. Fowkes, who added that I-Tri instruction and training remain available to its many participants on the South Fork by way of video conference. “These digital engagements are helping our girls build strong connections, gain emotional support, and are providing them with the tools they’ll use to succeed in years to come.”
Addressing I-Tri’s supporters, many of whom had told her they wished I-Tri were around when they were growing up, Ms. Fowkes said they could participate in its Positivity Project online at itrigirls.org/digital/learning.
“I-Tri believes that our mission is more important today than ever,” Ms. Fowkes continued. “It is costing $38 per girl to bring our digital program to them. We would appreciate any donations to help us reach our current fund-raising goal of $30,000.”
Mentoring Day was sponsored by the Twin Forks Professional Women’s Circle and M&T Bank.