Basketballs in garbage cans were lugged into Voelkel Gym. Badminton nets were set up in Memorial Gym. Water cans and bags of orange slices were strategically placed around Rains Center. And finally, the buses from Fremont Academy and Serrano Middle School pulled up on Sixth Street, and National Girls and Women in Sports Day was ready to begin.
“One of my favorite things is when the buses pull up and the girls see the posters that the Student Athlete Advisory Committee put up,” said Lisa Beckett, a professor of Physical Education and sports administrator who has helped with NGWSD since its very first celebration at Pomona in 2000. “They say things like, ‘Look! They know we’re coming!’”
Beckett loves to see the girls’ appreciation, excitement and enthusiasm. “For me, it’s neat that they look forward to it, that they expect it to be great,” she added. “We try to make it just as great as it has been built up to be.”
This year’s theme was “Go For It!”, a phrase often associated with excitement and determination. During the welcome speech, in which several adults told stories about their connections with the phrase “go for it,” the girls were asked to think about their goals and aspirations. “One girl stood up and said her goals were, ‘to try lots of new things’ and to ‘work hard,’” recalled Sallie Marx PO ’18, who helped plan and set up the event.
NGWSD originated in 1987 in honor of Flo Hyman, an Olympic volleyball player who promoted women’s access to and equality in sports. Now, it is celebrated annually among schools and sports programs as a day to educate girls about sports, fitness-related activities, and healthy lifestyles.
For these girls, it’s like spending a day in Disneyland. Well, perhaps not quite that exciting—but close. “The girls were very eager to play with us,” said Marx. “Playing basketball and doing relay races with them was a really enjoyable way to connect with them as female athletes.”
Throughout the Claremont Colleges’ seventeen years of celebrating NGWSD, the framework for the day hasn’t changed. There are four clinics, with four teams of girls that hop from station to station after a certain time period. “We’ve done traditional sports like basketball, volleyball, and soccer [in clinics] but we’ve also done hip hop, Zumba, table tennis, and resistance training,” said Beckett. “I really love the idea of introducing the girls to different kinds of sports and fitness activities.”
At lunch, the girls go watch an athletic event on campus. This year, they cheered on the Pomona-Pitzer swimming and diving teams as they took on Occidental College on Saturday, Feb. 6th.
The Physical Education/Athletic Department, Draper Center, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Beckett, and all the students, administrators, and coaches who helped out certainly facilitated a fantastic day. Were the girls inspired? They certainly seem to have been: On a sheet passed around at the end of the day, one girl wrote, “Believe it or not, we can do it!”
After a day of interacting with student-athletes and traipsing around the college campuses, the girls probably felt like college students themselves. In a few years, they will be; now they just have to go for it.