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Black N Gold Girls

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What started as a small but passionate group of knowledgeable female Pittsburgh sports fans has quickly turned into one massive and mighty movement. Meet the Black N Gold Girls.

“The winners and new champions of Dancing With The Stars are…”

While the celebrity dancing competition wouldn’t normally have a place in a sports article, the television show has proven to be a popular avenue for athletes to strut their stuff off the field.

Even more unusual would be the mentioning of this show in a Pittsburgh sports magazine, if not for the dancing-exploits of Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.

However, these snippets of information might not even be relevant to any readers today were it not for the existence of the Black N Gold Girls, an organization of women who love talking about sports, watching sports, and meeting with other women who share similar interests in living and breathing everything Steelers, Penguins and Pirates.

Created in 2009, the Black N Gold Girls started off small with only a few members that had a common bond in being passionate, knowledgeable female sports fans.

“It started as a discussion of how awesome it would be to have women getting together to talk about sports,” said Cassandra Buncie, Vice President of Marketing and one of the founding members of the Black N Gold Girls. “We are them. We know them. We are an outlet for these women to stand up and be counted.”

What started as a small, if ambitious, project has now grown into one of the largest forums dedicated to female sports camaraderie.

With nearly 30,000 Facebook fans, the Black N Gold Girls have been able to not only give a voice to the female fan, but have also allowed them to scream, hoot and holler like their male counterparts have done for what seems like an eternity.

“Where we were two years ago to where we are now is pretty outstanding,” said Buncie. “We had hoped for 7,000 fans by this point, and now we have 30,000.”

Buncie believes that the Black N Gold Girls are successful because they cater to the female sports fan in a way that men wouldn’t be able to. For her group, it’s not so much stats or even wins and losses, but the characters featured in the games and the emotions they carry onto the field.

“That’s why Dancing With The Stars resonates, because these girls become so attached to what goes on outside Hines Wards’ football life,” Buncie said.

Even though the group is experiencing tremendous success in a short period of time, there is still room for expansion through their website, online shop, and outside endeavors like the charitable activity, Girls Help Out.

One example of this expansion comes from the selection of unique apparel offered through their online store that helps to build a unifying identity for its members.

For Bobby LaVella, Vice President of Finance and fellow co-founder, the best part of running the organization the past two years has been the recognition from the players themselves.

“Guys like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are members. They know about us. That’s what’s nice, knowing the players know what we’re up to,” LaVella said.

The Steelers run to the Super Bowl this past winter made a significant impact on the group’s membership. Ten thousand members joined in the five days following the AFC Championship Game win over the New York Jets. Although some of those members may have been of the bandwagon variety, LaVella and his organization have been able to maintain that number and have actually grown since the Super Bowl loss in Arlington.

“Because of content, and what we stand for, and our charity work, we have been able to maintain those members,” LaVella said. “We have 4.8 million page views a month, which is pretty substantial and pretty cool.”

As Tom Bergeron announced Hines Ward as this season’s Dancing With The Stars champion, a flurry of activity burst upon the BNGG Facebook page, showing just how supportive the community is of its athletes and each other.

Perhaps one comment summed it up best: “Thank you BNGG for providing a place where we can all enjoy these types of activities with other Pittsburgh fans.”

With the Mirror Ball trophy coming home to Pittsburgh, many of these women are feeling a sense of pride from contributing to Ward’s victory, and they should.  

It may not be the Lombardi Trophy, but it is a worthy consolation prize that signifies how far the Black N Gold Girls have grown.

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