On Thursday, March 10, faculty and students alike gathered in the Student Ballroom for the third annual Women in Sports Luncheon. Held as a collaboration between the Division of Student Affairs and Athletic Department, the event honored and celebrated Armstrong’s senior female athletes as part of women’s empowerment month.
Women’s athletics at Armstrong has had a truly impressive track record over the course of this season, as senior softball player Peyton Roth can attest.
“Since I’ve been here, the female sports have been very strong nationally and I think that’s really brought more awareness to sports here at Armstrong.”
The afternoon celebrated the women not only as athletes but as student athletes, a distinction made clear by University President Dr. Linda Bleicken. Armstrong puts heavy emphasis on athletes as they are well-known for their heavy community involvement.
“One of the things that is very near and dear to my heart, besides athletics, is service to the community,” Dr. Bleicken said during her opening remarks. “The thing that is so impressive to me is that not only are [they] talented athletically, but [they] are also talented academically and [they] also remember to give back.”
The event doubled as an awards ceremony and three women were given special recognition for their accomplishments during their time at Armstrong. Candace Cosby was presented the GPA Award, Tiara Baker was awarded the Perseverance award, and Kayla Berns was presented the Pirate Award.
The ceremony was received with appreciation by the student-athletes, many of whom share the same sentiments as the faculty in regards to student athletics. As Berns, libero defensive specialist for the volleyball team and SAAC president, stated after the ceremony.
“It was an honor. I was so surprised and grateful,” Berns said. “But what I think these awards really encompass is that a student athlete is more than just an athlete. I feel like we do so much outside of athletics that I feel all of us deserve a pirate award, so that’s why I’m so honored.”
However not only was the tradition endeavors to commemorate both Armstrong’s stellar student athletes as well as women’s advancement in athletics as a whole.
As assistant director of Student Athletics, Jennifer Rushton, can attest, women have had a long and difficult struggle for equality.
“[Commemorating this] is extremely important,” Rushton said. “I was fortunate to enter sports after Title IX passed, but it’s still a battle every day to fight for equality.”
Title IX was passed in 1972 and banned discrimination against female athletes in schools and universities. Since the passing, female participation in sports has skyrocketed from under 300,000 across the nation to well over 3 million.
“You hear the stories of pre-Title IX, when girls had to wash their own uniforms and find their own transportation to games while the men were taken care of,” Rushton added. “But our females don’t have to experience that struggle. Title IX created a lot of opportunities for all of our women here and women everywhere.”