Pomfret celebrates National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) acknowledges the accomplishments of girls and women in sports, the positive influence of sports participation, and the continuing struggle for equality for women in sports. For more than twenty-five years, Pomfret has celebrated NGWSD through in-person and virtual events and invited alumnae to share their stories about continuing their athletic careers beyond the Hilltop and making a difference in sports.
This year’s NGWSD event celebrated the progress in equality for female athletes. Pomfret held a virtual event organized by Director of Student Activities and Varsity Field Hockey Co-Head Coach Louisa Gebelein Jones P '04 and moderated by Kay Cowperthwait '87 and Haynes McCoy '25. Panelists Michaela Brown '99, general manager and DEI board chair at VIDA Fitness; Jordan Lipson '13, assistant women's hockey coach at Robert Morris University; and Olivia Kremer '17, director of lacrosse operations at Boston University, discussed the recent strides made in female professional and collegiate sports.
“Hearing stories of past Pomfret was fun and rewarding,” shared Haynes. “It was great for me and my teammates to connect with some strong Pomfret alumnae who are doing cool stuff as well as learning more about the opportunities we have to play at and beyond college.”
With the recent development of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) and Athletes Unlimited — a network of women’s professional sports leagues for basketball, softball, volleyball, and lacrosse — there are opportunities for girls to continue pursuing sports after graduating from college. “PWHL shows young female athletes that they have a place to play. Their dreams don’t have to end after college or the Olympics,” said Lipson. “If the PWHL continues to succeed, it will be something that grows the game for females immensely.” The PWHL has seen significant success in its first year and has even filled 13,316 seats in the home of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild. “It’s great to have the professional, as well as collegiate, games to introduce the sport to young girls and for them to have someone to look up to,” said Kremer, who added that the Women’s Beanpot (a Boston-area collegiate ice hockey tournament) championship game was played at TD Garden — the home of the Boston Bruins.
While not every Pomfret student will continue to pursue athletics in college or professionally, the skills and lessons they learn on the field, ice, and court will help them succeed in life. As a current leader in the male-dominated fitness industry, Brown thanked Jones for her guidance and everything she learned as a novice field hockey player at Pomfret. She credits Jones with teaching her to take a seat at the table when it is not offered. “The confidence and sense of self that I developed through learning to play field hockey translated into me trusting my instincts and myself — and taking that seat.”
Students watching the virtual event took the panelists' advice to heart. “NGWSD is important for us on the Hilltop because sometimes we take for granted the opportunities we have here as female athletes. We forget that women before us had to fight to play sports. Because of them, we now get to compete at a high level in the sports we love.” shares Student Athletic Council President Ivy Dowdle ’24. “Coach Jones always reminds us of this fact, and I am so grateful.”
Jones is one of many people at Pomfret advocating for equality in sports. Since arriving on the Hilltop in July 2022, Director of Athletics and Afternoon Programs Mo Gaitán has been meticulous about gender excellence to elevate the experience for girls on the Hilltop. She is dedicated to inspiring young women to pursue their passion for sports and continuing to break gender barriers to create a new normal. “In a male-dominated athletics industry, having females to look upon daily doing this work can have a profound long-term impact on our students,” shares Gaitán. “Pomfret is proud to have the majority of our female programs coached by women and a predominantly female athletics administration.”
“I am so fortunate to play the sports I love with the amazing girls in our community and to be led by our female coaches,” says Student Activity Council Vice President Audrey Bonaventura ’25. “It’s an honor and a privilege to represent the growth of women in sports every time I step on the field.”