On May 3, Eva Dowd ’22 posted a one-question poll to her Instagram story: ‘If you’re a woman, would you be interested in a club soccer team at Bowdoin?’ The response was overwhelming—with over 60 interested students and a host of alumni expressing their support, Dowd felt empowered to try and kickstart a team.
“I’ve received an overwhelming amount of interest and support, even just in [this] very cursory, low-level outreach phase,” Dowd said. “I also received a lot of support from girls currently on the varsity soccer team, offering whatever help they could provide from their end and expressing solidarity with the unfairness of there being a men’s club team and not a women’s team.”
Though hindered by the pandemic in her initial efforts, Dowd re-entered the 2021-2022 school year looking to finally bring the team to life. With a strong support network of students behind her—including 25 students from the class of 2025 alone—Dowd began connecting with alumni who had previously attempted what she was seeking to do.
Through her initial outreach, Dowd was connected with Sofia Trogu ’19, an alumna involved in a past effort to form a Junior Varsity (JV) women’s team in the 2017-18 school year. Trogu had secured the interest of over 30 students and even organized unofficial practices and team events over the course of that year.
“For that first year, I was really just trying to get girls to come out to practices and not actually set up any official games,” Trogu said. “[But] there’s certainly precedent, and definitely interest [in a women’s club team].”
Eventually, Trogu’s team dwindled, and it wasn’t until Dowd’s efforts this fall that the women’s club soccer scene started to re-emerge.
Dowd’s own attempt to kickstart the team coincided with the tail end of Bowdoin’s efforts to transition all of its JV teams to club status, as is standard across the College’s peer institutions.
“The JV soccer program for women had a lack of interest several years ago and didn’t continue to operate,” said Nate Hintze, Director of Student Activities. “The men’s soccer JV program, because it really was operating as a club rather than a traditional JV program, transitioned to being a club program. So we don’t have any JV programs at Bowdoin [anymore].”
In late May, Dowd reached out to Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan to learn more about the possibility of obtaining approval and funding to start a team. She found the application process more complicated than expected, as it involved both applying for Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC) funding and coordinating field space with the athletics department.
Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities and Event Management Kevin Loney distributes field space to the College’s teams, communicating with coaches and staff to assign time blocks to each team. While the women’s club team’s funding status is pending SAFC approval later this semester, Loney noted the possibility for the group to obtain field space before the SAFC’s final decision.
“Right now, we have two fields available for club sports,” Loney said. “If [the club teams] can figure out [how to divide] their practice times … between those two fields, I can map it out.”
Field space at Bowdoin has historically been difficult to come by, as 31 varsity teams along with the men’s and women’s ultimate frisbee and men’s and women’s club soccer teams must now compete for a limited number of time blocks which usually occur in the late afternoon and early evening of each weekday.
“We have a ton of field space, probably more than I’ve had anywhere that I’ve worked outside of my time [at the] Division I level,” Loney said. “But we also have a ton of athletes here in varsity and club sports … sometimes, you run into different time constraints.”
Despite the possibility of future setbacks, Dowd is confident with the support she has received from the Athletics Department and other groups on campus such as the women’s varsity soccer and men’s club soccer teams.
“I think [the men’s club team] is going to help us out with obtaining soccer balls and cones before we get our own funding … and even if we have issues [with] field space or other things,” Dowd said.
Hintze also expressed his support. “Student Activities is excited to work with Eva and the women’s club soccer team as soon as they are fully chartered by the Student Organization Oversight Committee (SOOC), which will take place in early October,” Hintze said in an email to the Orient. “In the meantime Athletics has given the team access to field space and has been willing to keep them under their purview until they’ve completed the SOOC chartering process.”
Ryan emphasized that Bowdoin athletics remains committed to working with women’s club soccer both now and in the future.
“I’m excited about additional opportunities for students to be able to pursue their athletic interests, and I’m glad that this is coming together through the partnership with the Student Activities Office,” Ryan said. “I look forward to supporting the women in the program in the years ahead.”