SALT LAKE CITY — Kuea "Kiki" Angilau has been playing basketball since she was about 10 years old.
"I love the competitiveness, the constant hustling and just the teamwork," she said.
The East High School girls basketball team practices layups, dribbling and run plays weekly.
"I think just participating in sports could just help us meet new people, learn new things, try new things," Celestina Faletoi, another girl on the team, said.
But girls learn much more from participating in sports than just how to score points.
"I am an absolute proponent of girls and women doing sports," Susan Madsen said.
Madsen, director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project, has studied the benefits of sports for women.
"You learn things when you play team sports, and even individual sports, that you don't learn in other ways," she said.
One of those is teamwork.
I would definitely encourage parents to put their kids in sports and to let them learn how to fail and succeed and win and lose. I think it's so important.
"It's taught me not to be selfish because if you don't hustle on defense or if you don't pick up your grades, you hurt not just yourself but the team," Angilau said.
Girls also learn to make decisions and act quickly.
"You can learn as a girl and a woman to take risks, and we as women do not take risks as well as men do," Madsen said.
And taking risks, Madsen said, is critical to developing confidence.
"Sports help you do that. You learn to do tough things physically, you learn how to do tough things mentally," she said.
Lyndee Anderson played lots of sports growing up.
"I mainly played soccer. I played soccer competitively," Anderson said. "But I also dipped my toes into some basketball."
She also played volleyball in junior high and ran track and field.
Now she's about to graduate from college, and the things she's learned while playing sports have stuck with her.
"You can take it back to that confidence you built at a young age playing sports, and I have, definitely," she said.
But many girls in Utah aren't getting those lessons.
The Utah High School Activities Association reports the number of boys playing sports is just over 35,000 and only 24,500 girls play sports.
The benefits of sports for women also extend into the workplace.
Madsen said most people in business, politics and the community struggle with taking and giving good feedback.
The research is clear that playing sports develops desirable qualities, Madsen said.
Madsen said those who play sports "learn to give and receive feedback more accurately and better so that they can improve their performance."
"I got plenty of criticism growing up. I was not a perfect athlete. I struggled," Anderson said. "I would definitely encourage parents to put their kids in sports and to let them learn how to fail and succeed and win and lose. I think it's so important."
Madsen was a coach for 15 years and has seen the benefits firsthand.
"Into their schooling, into their community work and just become stronger and more confident women because of those experiences."