The athletic department will kick off homecoming festivities this weekend by celebrating 40 years of women's athletics at the College. Beginning this afternoon, the athletics department will host a series of alumnae events for all the teams.

"I think this event is recognizing some of the first women athletes and coaches that were real pioneers, as far as women athletes at Bowdoin," said Head Field Hockey Coach and Associate Athletic Director Nicky Pearson. "I think this is a celebration of people's commitment and hard work throughout the decades."

The event marks the 40th anniversary of women at Bowdoin. In 1971, the College went coed and in 1972, field hockey became the first women's varsity sport, followed by basketball, lacrosse and squash.

In addition to events for teams, the department will also premiere the Nike documentary "There is No Finish Line" on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Studzinski Recital Hall. The documentary tells the story of Joan Benoit Samuelson '79, who won the first women's Olympic marathon in 1984.

"She is so generous in giving back not only to the Bowdoin community, but I think she has a profound effect on so many people," said Pearson.

The documentary will trace Samuelson's life, including her time at Bowdoin, her experience winning the Olympic marathon gold medal, and her involvement in the community.

"It's essentially her story," said Director of Athletics Jeff Ward. The documentary is free and open to the public.

The festivities will culminate in a reception and dinner tomorrow evening, during which five Bowdoin alumnae, ranging from the graduating class of 1977 to 2011, will share their experiences of competing for Bowdoin. Past and current coaches, alumnae, and the current captains of women's varsity teams are invited to the dinner, which has an expected attendance of about 200.

The dinner is "the one time when we're going to get everybody together," said Ward. "We have people from different [graduating] classes who are going to...give us some sense of how athletics [have] changed over four decades."

The weekend's events, Ward added, allow the athletics department to reflect upon its achievements in the past 40 years.

"I'm very proud of the entire athletic program," said Ward. "In many ways, I just hope to continue that in the future."

According to the athletic department's invitation for the event, the College will continue to highlight the role, history, and achievements of Bowdoin's women throughout the academic year. The athletic event, Ward added, is "simply one way to remind people about the accomplishments of women at Bowdoin."