Angela Rae Fields founded Rae’s Hope in 2008 to empower girls to take charge of their lives through volleyball. Rae’s Hope incorporates life skills such as financial literacy, community engagement and education into the program, and has served over 6,000 girls aged 5 to 18 over the last 15 years.
Every Tuesday, around 30 girls from across the Dallas metro area attend Rae’s Hope for the program.
“Exposure and awareness are the two things I try to bring to these girls’ lives,” Fields says. “Rae’s Hope operates much like a prevention program in that sense — we prevent these other ailments of little girls growing up to become pregnant at the wrong times in their life and (teach them) how to take care of their health.”
Before founding the nonprofit, Fields was a teacher and a volleyball coach at South Oak Cliff High School where she first developed a love for the sport and recognized its potential to bring girls together.
“Being a coach at South Oak Cliff High School, I saw how challenging it was for us to be successful because my kids didn’t get the same amount of touches as kids in the suburbs,” Fields says. “I realized that I needed to start teaching kids at younger ages.”
Throughout the years, Fields has started little league teams and hosted tournaments for Dallas Independent School District students.
In 1999, she started the South Dallas Darlings volleyball team where girls spiked, set and served all over the country.
“From that point on, I knew volleyball could become a vehicle in education,” she says. “A lot of our children weren’t getting some of the necessary life skills to help them further their lives.”
Fields considers the gym her classroom. When the girls step foot on the court, Fields hopes to shape their lives through volleyball, teaching the girls more than how to dive for the ball.
“You have to be able to know how to get along and work with others, and helping build self-esteem and confidence allows you to be a productive member of a team,” Fields says.
Some of the girls have gone on to receive volleyball scholarships and a few have become coaches. Kennedi Coleman, who first played volleyball with Fields as a sixth grader, is now an assistant coach at Red Oak High School, where she’s led her team to championships.
“We help them believe they have a purpose in life, and I see the fight and self-determination in these girls to rise up,” Fields says. “Volleyball is just there to push them beyond their limits, and along the way they learn not to give up.”