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'Shut up and play...that's not going to happen' | UGA volleyball player creates safe space for black women

After the practices, classes and just hectic life in general, sometimes you just need a little "Girl Talk."

ATHENS, Ga. — On a weekday night, after the practices, classes, and just hectic life in general, sometimes you just need a little "Girl Talk."

That's what UGA volleyball player Kaylah House realized as a Black student-athlete at UGA in 2020.

"This free open space is to bring together African American females in athletics who sometimes don't really feel like they have other people to lean on," House said.

Every few weeks, Black women at the University of Georgia get some face time...over Zoom.

"Due to COVID, you don't even see anybody else other than your teammates," she said.

House wanted to get to know other black female athletes from other teams on campus.

"Let's be friends!"

On this "Girl Talk" Zoom, you don't have to be anybody but yourself. 

"I always feel like I have to censor myself when I'm around certain people just because of how I look or the stereotype that I get," House said. "It's just bringing this small little group of people who look like me together."

House started volleyball when her mom pushed her to do it in 8th grade. While she claims she was not the most athletic, her height gave her an advantage. She stuck with it and learned that not only could it provide her a path to get a college education, but also a chance to meet new people.

But as COVID-19 created the need for social distancing and the events of the summer sparked an outcry for change as it relates to social justice, House felt compelled to do more.

"The only thing that I really could think about...sorry I'm like tearing up," she said wiping her eyes when explaining how the summer affected her.

"That could be my little brother in that situation. I don't ever want that to happen to him or anyone that I love, like my closest guy friends.

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"I don't want anyone to be put in that situation. People are put in that situation. It's not much we can do, but there is something we can do to make sure our voices are heard."

For House, speaking out and doing something about the issues her community faces isn't an option. It's a necessity.

"People most time say shut up and play, and that's not going to happen anymore," she said. "Sports are going to end one day. Your career as an athlete is over, and you just can't say, 'Oh, I used to be an athlete.' You have to care about something else."

That compelled House to start the "Girl Talk" group. Athletes, members of the athletic department, teachers, administrators all gather. Despite their different stages of life, they're all bonded by their similar experiences.

"Girl Talk" can help navigate through it all.

"It's a free open space to be yourself...for once."