Last Sunday, Bowdoin hosted its annual Girls and Women in Sports Day in Farley Field House as part of a string of events happening around the country celebrating the 32nd annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This year, 324 girls, whose ages run from kindergarten to high school, participated in the free event, themed “Play Fair, Play IX.”
“Sometimes we forget that it’s not too long ago when Title IX was put in place, which really provided for a lot of additional opportunities for women to participate in sports,” Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan said. “[Girls and Women in Sports Day] is a great way to continue that legacy and also to serve as a reminder for everyone about the importance of Title IX being enacted.”
Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach Ellery Gould, who planned Sunday’s event, agrees with Ryan and believes that the event gives girls a way to try different sports. The two-hour event was completely free and provided the necessary equipment, pizza and snacks, and drawstring bags for the girls to take home with them.
“I think back to when I was a young girl growing up and I just think, ‘Wow, how cool is it that they have this opportunity to not only be around these incredible role models that they can look up to and see walking around the community and see playing in games,’” said Gould. “Ultimately, it’s a ten-minute station [for each sport], but I think it’s really neat that they can be introduced to a new sport that they might love. They can go back and say, ‘Maybe I can try to join a team or try a camp this summer.’”
Fourteen different teams, from the sailing team to the rugby team, agreed to participate. Gould believes that the range of sports and the different stations allowed the girls to form a bond with their group.
“It was pretty awesome to see the variety of sports, and all of the girls went in with an open mind,” she said. “It was fun because we break them up by age, but it’s a group of probably 10 to 15 girls in each group rotating, and they don’t necessarily all know each other but they’re all working together for a two-hour clinic and making new friends that way.”
Despite putting together the event, Gould credits the student athletes with ensuring the event ran smoothly.
“It was mostly run through the players. So I basically just did some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, but as soon as the day starts, it’s on the players,” Gould said. “Each team had at least four or five players there throughout the day. So as soon as we all bring it in and we break into the groups, it’s really the players who run the day. It wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Furthermore, Gould sees Girls and Women in Sports Day as an opportunity for athletes to go back to their roots and remember why they play their sport.
“It was nice for me to see as a coach, to see them now being on the other side and coaching these young girls,” she said. “At least on my team, we always talk about ‘playing for her,’ so play for the girl who fell in love with soccer. Think about why you play soccer and why it means so much to you. A lot of people think back to their younger years and why they fell in love with the sport.”
Ultimately, both Gould and Ryan believe that it is important to increase girls’ exposure to different sports from a young age, and this event hopes to accomplish that.
“Many schools across the country don’t provide equal opportunities, so I just think it’s great that Bowdoin supports this movement and I think it’s an incredible opportunity for local girls,” Gould said. “We had a lot from Brunswick, but we also had some come in from Wiscasset and as far down as Freeport and all over. It was just great how widespread it was and how just one little event in the grand scheme of things can hopefully make a difference in these girls’ lives.”