Wellesley Celebrates National Girls & Women in Sports Day and 365 Days of Blue
Wednesday, February 1, marked the 31st annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD), a nationwide celebration of the achievements of girls and women in sports and the positive influence of athletics in their lives. This year, the day coincided with Wellesley’s yearly celebration of the past 365 Days of Blue athletics. The ceremony, which took place at halftime of Wednesday’s basketball game, recognizes the Blue’s Seven Sisters, NEWMAC Conference, and NCAA participants and champions from the past year.
Organized nationally by a coalition composed of the Women’s Sports Foundation, the National Women’s Law Center, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition, and Girls Inc., NGWSD began in 1987, both as a day to recognize women’s sports and in remembrance of Flo Hyman, a champion of women’s athletics and a U.S. Olympic volleyball silver medalist who died of Marfan syndrome in 1986. The day recognizes the progress of girls and women in sports, and the benefits that sports and fitness activities can bring to their lives, while also acknowledging that there is more work to be done to expand opportunities for women in athletics. NGWSD has grown into a national event across youth, college, and professional sports.
For Wellesley, the evening provided one more opportunity to recognize Blue Crew’s 2016 NCAA Division III National Championship, the first team championship in school history and the first rowing championship won by a women’s college, as well as the continuing success of the varsity athletic programs. In front of Wellesley’s largest crowd of the season, Andrew Shennan, provost, and Bridget Belgiovine, athletic director and chair of the Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics (PERA), greeted Wellesley’s athletes with congratulatory handshakes at halftime to recognize their success, notably the Blue’s sustained excellence at the annual Seven Sisters Championships, where Wellesley has now won 20 consecutive titles in swimming and diving, eight straight in crew, and three in a row in cross country.
The ceremony also included a trio of All-Americans in Maura Sticco-Ivins ’18, the 2015 national champion in 3-meter diving, who returned to the NCAA Championships to earn national runner-up honors in 2016; Abena Asare ’18, the first field athlete in College history to qualify for the NCAA Championships, and subsequently the first to earn All-American honors when she finished fourth in the long jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships; and Mary Keenan Kreidel ’17, who was lauded for her All-American eighth-place finish in the 5000m at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Local youth athletes from the Natick Youth Basketball girls’ travel team, the Wellesley Scoops Field Hockey Club, and the Wellesley Youth Lacrosse Club joined the party; they were treated to ice cream alongside Wellesley’s student-athletes and their families and friends in attendance. In years past, the 365 Day celebration allowed PERA to recognize and thank its own athletes, but this year’s event has inspired a new tradition: joining with NGWSD to unite women and girls of all ages in celebration of women’s athletic achievement both at Wellesley and beyond.