Last Saturday morning, women athletes from 12 Bowdoin teams fought through the frigid morning temperatures to Farley Field House where Bowdoin hosted its National Girls and Women in Sports Day event. The event featured Bowdoin athletes mentoring around 100 girls in grades one through five from the surrounding Brunswick area. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was the first time the event was hosted in over three years.
The day aimed to help young girls find empowerment through sports.
“For the girls attending, they got to experience sports that they wouldn’t normally be exposed to such as sailing and rugby and Nordic skiing,” Assistant Women’s Volleyball Coach and event coordinator Taylor Stevens said. “For our Bowdoin student athletes, I know that their mentorship to these young girls is incredibly powerful and that the girls were looking up to them the whole time.”
Rowing captain Lucy O’Sullivan ’23 thought the event had a positive impact. As someone who wishes she had been introduced to rowing at a younger age, O’Sullivan was eager to share the sport with the girls.
“It was really cool to give them some exposure to sports that they wouldn’t necessarily see until they were older,” O’Sullivan said. “I think it was cool to represent a diversity of sports as well, because if kids aren’t doing so well in soccer or gymnastics, they know that there’s more out there.”
Rower Noa Winikoff ’25 added that she enjoyed having all of the women’s sports teams in one place and that the younger girls’ enthusiasm was contagious.
“It’s easy to get into the process of going, going, going in regards to training, so it was really cool to take a step back and see how excited and engaged the girls who are new to the sport were,” Winikoff said.
Sailing captain Hattie Slayton ’23 loved seeing the girls imagine what it would be like to sail for the first time.
“How our sport works is quite a mystery, so it is always fun to share with people, young girls in particular,” Slayton wrote to the Orient. “We had the girls hop in the boat and pretend they were sailing and hiking out … It was really exciting to see their eyes light up when they got to step on the boat. Their passion and excitement for sports was palpable.”
Associate Director of Athletics Alice Wiercinski believes that over the years, the College has devoted more time and energy into promoting the mental wellness of athletes. Wiercinski noted that it has proven to be just as important as the physical aspect for improving athlete performance. She hopes that this event was a positive addition to that initiative and helped show young girls the importance of support networks in sports.
“I think we’ve been fortunate at Bowdoin to be able to devote some resources and work with some different consultants in these areas, so that our student athletes on all of our teams have access to talk to nutritionists, sports psychologists, and again, mindfulness and mental health coaching,” Wiercinski said.
The College paired up with the non-profit Strong Girls United led by Lani Silversides. The group led powerflow yoga and empowering affirmations workshops for both the girls and female athletes.
“Lani, along with the swim team and golf team, ran goal-setting, creative empowerment stations,” Stevens said.
The only thing O’Sullivan would change about the event in the future is its frequency. She hopes there can eventually be similar events hosted throughout the year.
She added that it was refreshing to see the eagerness of the kids.
Wiercinski expressed gratitude for the female athletes’ part in making the event a success.
“To see our women student athletes from our teams show up and be at Farley Field House in the morning in the freezing cold with smiles on their faces and incredible attitudes was really inspiring,” Wiercinski said.
Kristen Kinzler contributed to this report.