Women’s week inspires many
Edward Rudman – Sports Writer
The Owls’ Athletic Department hosted the National Girls and Women in Sports Week last week virtually from Feb. 22-27, a change from the usual one-day, on-ground annual event.
Each women’s program created short instructional videos on their respective sports to create exposure and introduce young girls, ages 5-12, to a wide variety of sports that they may have not been aware of prior and to show them that there are many opportunities for them.
“Collectively, the head coaches and our little team came up with the idea to do the weeklong event to keep them engaged. They’re 5-12, so we’re not expecting them to sit there for a three-hour event virtually,” said Jen Dawson, graduate intern in the athletic department. “We tried to get a 5-10 minute video of each team showing them the basic skills that go into each sport and have each team talk about what they may be able to use at home if they don’t have the equipment there.”
In years prior the event was hosted in the Moore Field House, but in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the athletic department will be releasing each of the program’s videos throughout the week.
The university also hosted a t-shirt and gift pick-up event outside of the Moore Fieldhouse on Saturday, Feb. 27, from 9 a.m to 12 p.m. Participants who were not able to pick up their gifts will have them mailed by the athletic department.
Even though it will not be the same experience offered in the past, the athletic department still wanted the chance to expose young aspiring female athletes to the athletic opportunities available to them.
“There aren’t many opportunities to learn all these types of sports in one place,” said Melissa Stoll, head women’s cross country and track and field coach. “So by opening our doors to the community and exposing girls to these sports and essentially saying, ‘this is something that you can do’. There are a couple sports that aren’t offered in other parts of the country, so the beauty about this particular week and having it be virtual is we’re able to have more exposure.”
By continuing to host the event, the university will be furthering the progression of female athletes gaining the respect and exposure that their male counterparts receive. This will also provide them with future opportunities, and is something that has come a long way in recent years, according to Kelley Frassinelli, head field hockey coach.
“For me, my experience was very different. I played sports in the 70’s and 80’s and back then, I didn’t think there was any less opportunity for me then my brother,” said Frassenelli.
“But when I look at it now, it’s amazing to me to realize what opportunities I didn’t have that the male athletes had.”
Participation in the event was free, however the athletic department is accepting donations from those who wish to help support events in the future. Those looking to donate to the event can do so on Southern’s athletic website.
The instructional videos created by the women’s programs can be found on Southern athletics NGWSD page.
“This helps give exposure to these girls who may, for one, not know where Southern is and who we are, but what we have to offer, in terms of sports opportunities,” said Stoll. “In the future, if it’s something they want to do, they can say, ‘I remember seeing that, maybe I’d like to go to school there’. Sports opens doors to education, and what is education? Education is freedom. It allows you to think and grow and opens up so many avenues.”
Photo credit: http://www.southernctowls.com