Since 1987, National Girls and Women in Sports Day has been celebrated every year during the first week of February. It’s a day to take time and appreciate girls and women who play sports, coach sports, work in sports, and all around just acknowledge the accomplishments of girls and women in athletics. This year, Naperville North Field Hockey Coach Monica Lodge took steps to make sure the female athletes at North get their day of recognition. Find out more in this feature presented by Edward Medical Group.
Monica Lodge: So I have two daughters that have been playing sports for as long as I could remember, and I’ve been on the sidelines, whether it’s cheering them on or coaching them. And I’ve seen how sports have impacted them and how much they’ve grown, just participating in sports. And when I found out about this day, in particular through the Women’s Sports Foundation, they kind of initiated this national girls and women in sports day. And my daughter actually in college, I believe they were doing it in college as well. And I thought, we have to acknowledge this. We have to acknowledge it as a school, acknowledge, you know, get all of our female athletes, acknowledge, like get them out there. And in addition to the field hockey league too. And anybody else and I encouraged everybody I could to try to post something about their team, about their daughter, whatever they could to just to encourage and kind of in a way, empower our female athletes to know that we see them and we recognize them and we’re here for them.
Title IX Creates More Opportunities
Since Title IX was passed in 1972, allowing equal athletic participation nationwide, there have been huge strides for girls and women in sports. However there is still a lot that can be done to continue the progress.
Callie Genovese: I feel like just more attention on girls sports, and I also feel like on TV, men’s sports are more like the prime time and women’s are like at times, but not as many people can watch it. So there’s not as many people watching it then. So I feel just more opportunities to have that equality, equalness.
Simran Desai: I think attendance is really important to show your support. And also, another thing would be nice if because a lot of times people compare men and women’s sport, but they’re pretty much two different things. So it’s just nice to recognize it as its own sport and just show support and praise them whenever you can.
Tiffany Cheng: Obviously women and men’s sports are completely different, and I think people always place a lot of emphasis on comparing these two sports when in reality, we should recognize that we’re built different, obviously. And so our performances differ so greatly. And it’s really unfair to compare the two just because they’re so different. So I think the first step is definitely recognizing that there’s just it, it can vary so differently, but we should learn to appreciate the beauty in women’s sports and obviously men’s sports as well.
Sophia Lodge: I just feel more equal opportunity. I feel like a lot of times the men’s teams, they tend to get more turf time like for practices and games like especially like football is a big thing, but we don’t really have like a large women’s sport that everybody gets excited to watch, like maybe like soccer or basketball. I mean, like, obviously field hockey and lacrosse are much smaller, especially at the high school level. But I think that getting to be more aggressive and more well known would be great.
Monica Lodge: I think we’re definitely on the right path. The amount of young girls engaging in sports. I think we’re on the right track. I’d just like to see it grow, I’d like to see it grow more and more. And I love to see the fact that we can encourage young girls to get out there and work hard with your teammates and sweat and you’re strong and independent. And it’s a great experience. And I think that we have to bring that to our youth and encourage them to just get involved.
Female Athlete Inspirations
For a lot of these athletes, it’s the people in their own lives, or the people they see on TV who serve as inspirations.
Sophia Lodge: I’d probably say my sister. So she played both lacrosse and field hockey from a young age, and then she worked really hard in both academics and then as well as in her sports career. And then she continued to play in college. And I think that’s a huge inspiration for me.
Abby Aldrich: I really this is kind of basic, but I really like Simone Biles, you know, especially her whole mental health thing, like especially pulling out of the Olympics was a big thing. I think it’s very important to, you know, put yourself first. And that was a really big showing of strength.
Tiffany Cheng: Personally, my favorite is Naomi Osaka. She’s my favorite tennis player, and I think it’s also inspiring when, like women, athletes also bring mental health to light and like other serious issues that are going on in the world at the moment.
Lauren Miranda: So, I’d say Coach Smith, because she does take like all of her time, she’s always thinking about cheer and really just puts us first before anything else because like she was planning her wedding and she still had, like, come to practice and really do all of that stuff. So I kind of look up to her because I’ve always wanted to be a cheer coach, too, and she sets a really great example.
Kaitlyn Vantine: I would say that as well. I also just look up to all the girls on our team individually, just as I see how much effort they put into the team and especially the juniors as we watch them grow since they were freshmen and we were sophomores.
Naperville North and other area schools hope to make Girls and Women in sports day even more prominent in coming years. But one thing is clear, girls and women are in sports and will stay in sports.
Abby Aldrich: I’m a gymnast and a diver.
Lauren + Kaitlyn: We do cheer. Laughter
Sophia Lodge: I play field hockey in lacrosse.
Genovese, Desai, Cheng: We play tennis, laughter.
Monica Lodge: I coach field hockey.
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Hannah Allen