Peter Chung remembers the exact University of Washington Huskies women's basketball game when his youngest daughter got hooked on the sport. They were sitting courtside for the first time, and the look on her face as she watched strong, talented women run up and down the court was priceless.
"I'll never forget the level of engagement I saw on her face," Chung says. "My youngest played with princesses and dolls, but through the dad-and-daughter program, I got to show her what these grown girls were doing. I also went to Washington and it's a great way to support the athletic program as well."
In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Chung's automotive dealership in Edmonds, Wash., is the title sponsor for the University of Washington's annual "Dads and Daughters" program, which aims to provide unique opportunities for fathers and daughters to spend time together.
"We got involved because we were trying to find a way as an auto dealership to get involved and give back to the community," Chung says. "Our thought process was that we could build stronger communities by building stronger families. One of the needs we saw was that while boys would get really involved and go to Washington games with their dads, we didn't see a whole lot of dads bringing their daughters. So much of the great response we've been getting is from moms who are happy that their husbands are spending more time with their daughters."
Cameron Wong works for IMG, which is affiliated with the event, but he began taking his daughter to Washington basketball games prior to his current job.
"I remember bringing her to a few events in a Baby Bjorn," Wong says, laughing. "As my daughter grew up, she liked the atmosphere. There were other kids her age running around the stadium. And we got to watch the Washington girls play at the top of their game. It was very important to me for her to see other women who were independent and strong and successful."
Wong's daughter started playing basketball and volleyball recently as a result of the time she has spent with her dad at the Washington events.
"It helps to keep a lot of purple around the house," Wong says. "But I wanted my kids to be passionate about something and I want them to strive for college. I didn't want to hit them with just study, study, study. That's important, but for her to see these women playing and representing a university was also important to me."
Wong wanted his daughter to get the chance to watch women like Jazmine Davis play in person because it shows young girls how much having heart and confidence and determination matter.
"Jazmine Davis was a Freshman of the Year here at Washington," Wong says. "She has a huge heart and she's real gutsy. I want my kids to see that. That's how I was as an athlete. I wasn't real talented but I was scrappy. Ever since I showed my daughter how Davis played, it has rubbed off on her. She's now a very scrappy player too; she dives around and gets loose balls and uses all five fouls."
As for Chung, taking his daughter to games instilled in her an enjoyment that extended beyond basketball.
"I know she started thinking about playing sports through the dad and daughter program," Chung says. "And now she plays soccer and loves it. But she still loves basketball. Every single year when the girls basketball season starts she and her friend, who we've been going with to the games for several years, look at the calendar and start asking about which games they can go to."
But while the goal is to instill a love of basketball and sports in their kids, the events are for kids, and Wong says that despite all the basketball they have watched, his daughter's first favorite moment was when she got to take a photo with the University of Washington mascot and the cheerleaders.
"That photo has been on her wall ever since," Wong says. "It's a memory she'll always have."
Which, when it comes to the University of Washington "Dads and Daughters" program, is the whole point.
-- Jon Finkel is the author of The Dadvantage: Stay In Shape On No Sleep With No Time And No Equipment. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Finkel.
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