Female athletes celebrated

Abigail Rinard, Contributing writer

Mercyhurst University will celebrate its sixth annual Girls and Women in Sports Day on Saturday Feb. 4, 2017. The event is a national celebration to recognize the achievements of women in sports and inspire the younger generation to participate.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is sponsoring the event and donated athletic gear to be given away.

The event, for girls in grades kindergarten through 8, will begin with a reception in the REC Center, where women’s athletic teams will have stations set up, introducing girls to potentially unfamiliar sports.

The rowing team, for example, brings rowing machines and facilitates 100 meter races. Other teams, such as soccer and field hockey, may teach the girls specific drills. The Athletic Training Club will teach basic rehabilitation procedures and stretching.

Shriners Hospital for Children will also be participating in Girls and Women in Sports day, with a new program called Female Initiative: Evaluation and Rehabilitation Care Excellence (FIERCE). FIERCE is a female-only sports medicine program designed to help prevent injuries — especially those that are more likely to occur in women.

Following the reception, the girls will receive free admission to the 1 p.m. women’s basketball game against Clarion.

Bethany Brun, coordinator of Service Learning, is responsible for bringing this event to Mercyhurst.

Brun attended a Girls and Women in Sports Day during sixth grade, where she was introduced to rowing. She then went on to start a club rowing team in high school, and subsequently rowed for Mercyhurst.

After her graduation, Brun became an AmeriCorps Vista at Mercyhurst, giving her the ability to bring this influential day to life on campus.

Brun’s goal in supporting National Girls and Women in Sports Day is twofold: first, to recognize the efforts that women have brought to sports, both nationally and within the Mercyhurst community.

Second, it is to introduce younger girls to sports in a multidimensional way: as a means for academic success, a way to build confidence and a possibility for healthy living.

“I feel like it’s rewarding for the athlete, and definitely for the little girls,” Brun said.

This event is also beloved among the athletes who help run it.

Emily Hair, a junior Sports Medicine major and member of the softball team, grew up going to a National Girls and Women in Sports Day event, and has participated in them as an athlete since her senior year of high school.

“Anything that raises morale for girls in sports especially is important,” said Hair. “I think it’s really important to do this stuff because it makes a more comfortable environment for girls to be athletic. It’s an exciting thing for girls to come together and celebrate women’s sports.”

Taylor Rider, a senior Forensic Anthropology major and captain of the rowing team, also commented on the importance of events that celebrate women, especially in light of the current political climate.

“These young kids are being exposed to all this negativity in the media, and we’re showing them what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. It’s really empowering for both parties — and it’s a reminder to us that we’ve come this far,” Rider said.