Celebrating Women’s Athletics
Weekend events mark two milestones
Tonight, the BU athletics department kicks off a weekend-long celebration commemorating two critical moments in women’s athletics: the passage, 40 years ago, of Title IX, the landmark federal legislation that guaranteed women’s collegiate athletics programs would receive the same funding as men’s, and the 30th anniversary of NCAA championship play for women athletes.
The celebration, titled Pass It On, will include a networking event for current student-athletes and alumnae mentors, an all-sports clinic conducted by current BU female student-athletes for elementary school children, an alumnae soccer game, and a varsity lacrosse game in which the Terriers host Canisius College. The festivities kick off with a reception tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Metcalf Hall in the George Sherman Union.
Nancy Lyons (SED’89), BU’s senior associate athletic director for compliance and senior women’s administrator, says the weekend-long program is also designed to celebrate the success of BU women’s athletics. Over the past several decades, Terrier women’s programs have become highly competitive.
“When we looked to have this event, we wanted to find a way to recognize the tremendous success of our women’s programs over the years, and have it coincide with the 40th anniversary of Title IX and the 30th anniversary of the NCAA championships for women,” Lyons says. “We thought it would be a good way to concentrate and focus the event on a specific era.”
Pass It On’s signature event, tonight, will feature a gathering of prominent figures from the BU athletics community. Speakers will include Michael Lynch, assistant vice president and director of athletics, and Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer, who played lacrosse as an undergraduate at Colgate University. They will be joined by a panel of former BU student-athletes, including softball great April Setterlund (SMG’11), hockey captain Holly Lorms (CAS’12), and soccer Hall of Famer Deidre Enos (SAR’00).
Lynch says the Pass It On celebration has been in the planning stages for more than two years, and notes that it is an opportunity for everyone in the community to get involved.
“It’s going to be a fantastic weekend for women’s sports here at BU, but also for BU in general, because our women’s programs have been so successful over the years,” says Lynch. “It’s going to be a valuable experience for all involved.”
The all-sports clinic, free to boys and girls in grades one through eight, is on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the BU Track and Tennis Center. The networking event takes place at the same location from 1 to 3 p.m. The alumnae soccer game begins at 4 p.m. at Nickerson Field.
The celebration will culminate with a BU women’s lacrosse game against Canasius College on Sunday at noon. The lacrosse team currently boasts a 9-5 record and has won eight of its last nine games.
Lynch says female student-athletes are a big part of why the University has consistently received recognition for the excellence of its athletics programs in recent years. “BU has won the last six Commissioner’s Cups, and a majority of the points we accumulated have been on the backs of our women’s teams,” Lynch says. “We have some very talented coaches who have chosen to make BU their home and who’ve taken our student-athletes, who are outstanding in their own right, and molded them into champions.”
In fact, the Terriers have proven a powerhouse in the America East. In the past decade alone, the field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, and tennis teams have all reigned as America East champs at least four times, and the women’s ice hockey team played in the NCAA championship game in 2011.
Lyons believes BU’s impressive team accomplishments and individual achievements are a direct result of the University’s support for women’s athletics.
“BU has a long history of being open and accommodating to women, and with that support has come success,” she says. “BU was one of the first schools in this part of the country to offer athletic scholarships to women, and as an institution, it’s in a great position to attract the type of women who will be successful.”
According to Lyons, the first prominent female student-athletes at BU were members of Sargent College’s physical education program, who entered independent competitions even before the creation of Title IX in 1972.
Although not originally intended to focus solely on athletics, Title IX has come to be synonymous with the growth of college women’s sports. While some of its detractors claim the law has hindered men’s athletics, Lynch says this stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what Title IX is designed to accomplish.
“I think there are choices every institution has to make,” he says. “Some choose to drop programs in order to comply, while others choose to add them. I think at BU you’ll see that our women’s sports teams are developing and winning championships, and yet our men’s teams are funded just as well. Historically there’s been a lot of blame placed on Title IX for the dropping of programs, but I’m not sure you can put those two things together.”
BU currently supports 13 Division I women’s programs, and will expand to 14 next year with the creation of a lightweight rowing program.
“For most athletes, the recognition isn’t the best part of playing the game,” says Lyons. “It’s nice, and it’s wonderful to have fans in attendance, but women play the game because they love it and they love the competition.”
Lynch agrees, and says events like those taking place during the Pass It On weekend help to raise awareness of women’s athletics.
“Women’s sports have gotten more publicity, especially over the past five years,” he says. “I’ve got two daughters myself, so I’ve certainly seen the impact these programs can have first-hand, and I’m a big fan.”
The Pass It On main program will take place on Friday, April 20, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Metcalf Hall in the George Sherman Union, 775 Commonwealth Ave. A reception will follow from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.
The all-sports clinic for children in grades one through eight will take place on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to noon at the BU Track and Tennis Center.
The networking event will take place on Saturday, April 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Track and Tennis Center. The alumnae soccer game will take place the same day at 4 p.m. at Nickerson Field.
The Boston University women’s lacrosse team will face the Canisius College Golden Griffins on Sunday, April 22, at noon at Nickerson Field. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $2 for BU students, faculty, and staff with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased on site one hour before the game.
Ben Carsley can be reached at email@example.com.