Event taught girls in grades 3-7 fundamental skills from eight sports
By: Shannon Sigafoos
The electricity in the air at Kamine Gym on Saturday wasn’t due to a buzzer beater, nail-biter, or rivalry basketball game—though anyone stepping into the room and hearing the excitement level may have thought otherwise.
The noise, whistles, bouncing balls, smiles, and exuberant energy were thanks to the appearance of all of Lafayette’s female athletes, including some coaches, as they mixed it up with girls in grades 3-7 who showed up to be part of a two-hour clinic on National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
The clinic, which was organized by Billie Weiss, ticket and promotions manager, and Katie McConnell, women’s lacrosse head coach, included instruction in volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer, field hockey, cheerleading, and lacrosse. Girls participating in the clinic were invited to stay for the women’s basketball game versus Colgate, when Lafayette captured its fourth straight victory.
“Being part of this event makes you feel really proud and excited for what’s to come. Our athletes value their time, and they want to give back to the younger generation,” McConnell pointed out while overseeing a boisterous field hockey session. “It makes me feel very happy and proud that our athletes are as engaged as they are, and excited to be here.”
Girls participating in the clinic were rotated into a different sport every 15 minutes, so that they were able to try their hand and learn the fundamentals of sports they may not have otherwise been exposed to. Lafayette’s athletes were providing hands-on instruction and then cheering on goals, baskets, and catches with the same level of enthusiasm, well aware that the youngsters they were teaching were looking up to them as mentors.
They also knew that for many of the younger girls, this was their first glimpse into what college life—and athletics in college life—could have in store for them down the road. The overall goal was to make the day a fun, positive experience that instilled confidence and created lasting memories.
“I heard two girls having a conversation, and one of them asked the other, ‘Do you like lacrosse now?’ And the other responded, ‘Yes, this is so fun.’ Coming to a small clinic like this is changing their whole mindset, and it’s a really special day,” said lacrosse player Olivia Kelley ’26. “We recognize that we’re the role models, and we’re the ones who are igniting that spark for them. This is the age where you really start to love sports, and no matter the obstacles in sports, it always comes back to that foundational love.”
“I think it’s important for them to see all of us come together for moments like this, even though we all play different sports. We’re all friends, and we work together. We’re all in the same community,” noted lacrosse player Molly Haas ’26. “It’s important we encourage them to start from a young age and show them that they can try so many new things and find out what they’re interested in.”
With a turnout that included both the girls participating in the clinic and others who came to play basketball during halftime of the Lafayette vs. Colgate game, Weiss is confident that celebrating Girls and Women in Sports Day will only get bigger year after year at Lafayette.
“We put the flyer on the website and on social media, and I sent information to the YMCA and other local groups. I also had volunteers who handed them out in schools. We had a great turnout, and this is a school that’s very tradition-based,” shared Weiss. “Moving forward, we want to keep this going. Lafayette is doing a great job of connecting with the community through athletics, and today we had a day that encompassed all women’s sports. The whole atmosphere is amazing.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Director of Athletics Sherryta Freeman.
“The girls here are maybe being exposed to a sport that they haven’t played before, and they might get to meet a girl who competes in that sport whom they’ve never met before. They’re learning those social skills, so there’s just so much that goes into it,” said Freeman. “Just to see those kids’ eyes light up, being around our student-athletes, being at the game, and being on a college campus—anytime you have an opportunity to do that, it’s fantastic.”