On Sunday, a record number of more than 300 girls from midcoast Maine flooded Farley Field House for the College’s National Girls and Women in Sports Day program. The theme of the day, as Assistant Coach of Women’s Soccer Ellery Gould ’12 said, was empowerment. 

The girls rotated through 11 different stations run by Bowdoin student athletes. Many tried sports such as sailing, field hockey, track and field, soccer, rowing, rugby, ultimate frisbee, basketball, tennis, lacrosse and softball for the first time.

The athletic department has organized the program for the past 15 years to celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day and to bring Bowdoin student-athletes and community members together through sport. According to Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan, community interest has continued to grow every year.

The surge in interest in the event is likely related to an increase in advertising and outreach through local schools and social media, an effort Gould identified as one of the main goals for this year’s program.

The early session brought over 200 girls in kindergarten through third grade and the afternoon brought an additional hundred girls from fourth to twelfth grade, in addition to the many Bowdoin athletes and coaches that helped organize and run the stations.

“I was only anticipating maybe 200 girls [in total] so I think the fact that it’s grown so much is great,” said Gould. “And the more that we can grow it and get more girls involved, the better.”

The day provides girls in the surrounding community an opportunity to both try new sports and learn more about familiar sports in an enthusiastic and engaging setting, while also gaining positive role models. This year’s turnout bodes well for the development of the program.

“In order for this event to be successful you need all teams to participate and to participate with full enthusiasm about their sport,” said Mettler Growney ’17. “That happened and that’s why we were so successful and have been so successful. It really starts with us and we have the ability to get younger girls in the area interested.”

The tone for the day was set early on, with the girls bringing eagerness and excitement to each station.

“The energy was really high and I think that came from the girls just being really excited,” said Gould. “And then our students did a great job being engaged and showing their passion for their sport and their knowledge for their sport, so they fed off the energy of the little girls.”

“It was pretty organic. We weren’t super rigid and it just flowed really well. On the day, we had 200-plus girls running in, so much energy, they’re bouncing off the walls and then we just brought them all together and from there it ran itself because of the students and how well they were able to work with the little ones,” she added.

Growney noted the importance of sparking interest in girls when they’re young—especially as similar experiences led her to play both field hockey and lacrosse at Bowdoin. However, according to Growney, the young girls aren’t the only ones benefiting from the day.

“It’s such a great opportunity to give back to the sport and younger girls in the community,” said Growney. “It feels good to give that back and to get more girls excited and to kind of pass the torch down. It’s a really rewarding experience to see these girls all excited about a brand new sport and having learned from other girls and women in the community.”

Gould found it gratifying to grow interest in female athletes and to see girls of all ages feel empowered to try new things.               

“At the end of the day, I just felt really accomplished,” said Gould. “[The girls’] confidence stepping right into this new sport, grabbing a frisbee for the first time or running into a rugby pad and jumping with a rugby ball—to see these young girls come in with so much energy and confidence was really rewarding and exciting for the future of women’s athletics.”