In this episode of the podcast we are joined by Regina Johnson, who brings a new perspective on the program. Regina is not only the Athletic Director at Martin Luther King High School, but her son and nephew are BTS student athletes.
According to Regina, it’s been a life-changing program for her family. “It's just a sense that you're not by yourself. You always have somebody that can support you and assist you. And that's extremely important, especially today.”
As an administrator at Martin Luther King High School, she has witnessed the power of the program to provide a safe haven for her students. “I've had a number of students killed due to gun violence. So every time they leave me, I say, ‘Be safe, have a great day, be safe.’ Because what's going on in the city is extremely difficult as a mother and as an educator.”
For Johnson, Beat the Streets provides a sense of community which transcends the sport of wrestling. With Beat the Streets programming, “they have a place to go that is comfortable, where they are learning. They're getting tutoring skills, they're learning real life situations. So when they have another place to go. It just helps so much.”
As an athlete herself, she understands the life lessons that can come from sports. But as a wrestling mother, she was surprised to find that the wrestling and Beat the Streets community extends beyond the walls of the gymnasium. “So that is really important, especially for students in this environment in Philadelphia, that they know they're not by themselves and they have people to depend on.”
Beat the Streets has worked hard to grow the sport of girls wrestling in Philadelphia, and Regina has been a tireless ally towards that goal. Johnson has long been a big proponent of girls’ sports and the wrestling program at Martin Luther King High School is a great example of a Beat the Streets partner that has fully embraced girls’ wrestling with a number of girls participating in the program.
"When a couple of the girls said they wanted to wrestle, ‘Okay, cool. I'm gonna support you 110%.’ Girls should not be limited to play one or two things. The sky's the limit for girls.”
It is not always an easy task, according to Regina. “We also have to open the minds of parents, because we have parents who have certain visions of girls. So it's not just girls wrestling, it's girl sports in general. It's very difficult for me to be in an environment where girls get treated differently. Here in the city of Philadelphia, one thing I noticed is a lot of girls have to watch the younger siblings and do extra housework, and they can't participate in girls athletics.”
In the end, Regina Johnson finds the fight for girls’ sports worth it. “I feel like if girls are involved in something, your school will be better."
Regina Johnson is an invaluable partner for Beat the Streets and a crucial member of our community. We want to thank her for all of her work to support the student athletes!