Sports play a major role in the McNick experience. Of the fall athletes at McNick, 47% are young women, yet sports such as football and men’s soccer seem to dominate the sports discussion throughout the school. According to Athletic Director Drew Schmidt, the goal of the athletic department is “to sell the best this school has to offer through [the] athletic teams and athletic department.” To meet this goal, there are still steps to be taken to ensure women’s sports are properly represented.
Many female athletes expressed frustrations for not being acknowledged for their hard work when it comes to their athletic performance. Freshman Mary Metzger, one of the top ten individual cross country runners in the city of Cincinnati for Division II, stated, “A lot of people think I don’t work hard at running and that I’m just naturally fast. It helps a lot, but I do work hard still. It’s upsetting when people say they work harder than me.”
Senior soccer captain Molly Ennis said, “We didn’t really have much support, even in the years without Corona… All of us put in a lot of work, and the score doesn’t show how good of a team we actually are. If people would come watch our games, you would actually see that.”
McNick has made some efforts to guarantee female athletes are included in the sports’ conversation, but this primarily takes place within the physical building during morning announcements and not as much within the greater McNick community. For example, sophomore tennis player Lily Crooker said, “When I first applied, I had no idea McNick had a tennis team. Becca [Rose] told me about it.” With better communication, potential players would know what sports are available to them.
One prominent factor in having this discussion is informing the McNick community about a variety of sports, not necessarily what is the most popular. Cross country coach Emily Gilbert said, “I would consider cross country an underrepresented sport, which may then trickle down into underrepresented freshmen in the sport [and] underrepresented females in the sport… It’s like the chicken or egg, I think: to get more girls out to get more recognition going.”
Offering more opportunities to prospective female athletes would also be beneficial to women’s teams. “Building junior high clinics [would] build that skill early on so that when we get them when they’re freshman, it’s not like they’re just walking on the court and they’ve never been here. You have to start them earlier,” said tennis coach Paige Umstead.
Equitably representing student athletes of all sexes needs to go far beyond a post on twitter that will soon be drowned out by more football. “It is an obligation at this school to show everybody how important male and female activities are,” Schmidt said. In order to fulfill this claim, it is important to actively seek out new ways to recognize female sports, which includes collaborating with female athletes and coaches.