Physical fitness was the name of the game at Allegheny College on Saturday as the campus hosted its first National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration in several years.
Female Allegheny students and members of the public were invited to the David V. Wise Sport & Fitness Center to take part in a number of activities. Participants were separated into two groups — one for girls between the ages of 8 and 13 and another for women 18 and older.
Sean King, Allegheny assistant athletic director for communications, said it’s been more than a decade since the college last held a National Girls and Women in Sports Day event. Kate Costanzo, women’s basketball coach for Allegheny and one of the organizers of Saturday’s activities, said there was not any particular reason the event stopped being held.
According to Costanzo, the celebration was revived because of a desire to have community activities scheduled around the time of Allegheny College home games. Saturday’s festivities served as a prelude to the women’s basketball game against Wittenberg University.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time coordinating and organizing different events we can have during our home games,” Costanzo said.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day is celebrated during the first week of February each year. It was first held on Feb. 4, 1987, following a proclamation by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Allegheny College partnered with the Women’s Sports Foundation in holding Saturday’s celebration. Participants were able to take part in a variety of activities including volleyball, soccer, weightlifting, pickleball, yoga, golf and field hockey.
King said one of the aims was to get participants to play a sport or activity that they might not have tried before. The choice to include field hockey was particularly made because Allegheny recently added the sport to its lineup, with the college having its first season this past fall.
The goal, King said, was also to make people in the Meadville area feel more at home visiting the campus for events.
“We want the community to feel a part of Allegheny as much as Allegheny feels a part of the community,” he said.
Many Allegheny coaches and student-athletes took part in helping demonstrate the various sports on display at the event to the public. Riley Wittler, an Allegheny senior and member of the golf team, was one such student who was helping out.
Wittler, who has played golf in all four of her years at Allegheny, wanted to help more women take up athletics through her involvement at the event.
“It’s definitely a good stress-reliever to get involved in sports,” she said. She particularly emphasized getting more women playing golf, saying the sport was mostly dominated by men.
Given that the event was taking place indoors, the Allegheny women’s golf team mostly focused on showing participants how to handle shorter hits and putts. However, using a golf simulator machine, they were also able to show off proper techniques for longer strokes.
Rita Walker and Murray Braden were two Meadville residents who took advantage of that simulator, taking time to learn how to perfect their golf game.
Walker said she had always wanted to learn how to play the game properly, but never had any instruction beforehand.
Braden spoke positively about the event.
“I think any time the college reaches out to the community, it’s a good idea,” she said.
Stacie Siegel, of Conneaut Lake, made her first visit to Allegheny College for a community event to take part in the National Girls and Women in Sports Day festivities. She decided to practice her skills at pickleball, a game she rarely plays but which her mother is more active in.
Siegel said she intended to keep informed about future such activities on Allegheny’s campus.
Livian Sakal, age 7, and her mother Jess Sakal were already intending to attend the women’s basketball game on Saturday. Learning about the activities available beforehand just made the trip even better.
“I heard about it and as soon as I suggested it, she was all for it,” Jess said.
King said the college hopes to continue holding National Girls and Women Sports Day events in the future, with each iteration having a different lineup of sports.
Sean P. Ray can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.