Within recent years sports have seen a growing surge of female participation in coaching, refereeing and overall professional athlete positions. Despite the growth, an estimated more than 150,000 college female athletes since the 1970’s and the passing of Title IX, a piece of legislation included in the Education Amendments that requires schools that receive federal funds to provide girls and women with equal opportunity to compete and coach in collegiate sports, there are still some minor hiccups in the way women’s sports are seen at the collegiate level.
“In the athletic world, women are seen as inferior. In every sport there is always some boy or man saying ‘you’re pretty good for a girl’, as if that were some kind of compliment. These kinds of people don’t realize how much time and effort it takes to prepare for a game.” Jen Al-Ghaben, midfielder and reserve goalkeeper for the Lorain County Community College women’s soccer team, stated on the topic.
“Other activities pull you away from the sport, especially for females where sports aren’t viewed as high of a priority as for males,” explained Katie Marquard, the athletic director at LCCC. “It can be hard to balance school, sport, and life (work, family, friends, etc). But participating in athletics teaching you what is necessary to succeed in life, if students apply what they learn to be successful in sports to the rest of their life than they will be successful. Set priorities, time management, do what is your passion, and not listening to what others or society thinks you should do.”
Whether it is running on a field or dribbling down a court, women athletes practice just as hard as their male counterparts, they devote their time as much as their male counterparts, and can win just as much as their male counterparts. The only difference between the men’s teams at LCCC and the women’s teams are the amount of spectators that attend games.
“Not many people come out and support,” Taylor Savarino, who played on the women’s and men’s soccer teams at LCCC for two years, said when asked about the differences she sees while on the field. “We are just as equal as the men, just as it should be. I would like to continue to see everyone being treated equal and fan support.”
“Soccer isn’t a popular sport around here at the best of times,” added Al-Ghaben, “It was sad seeing so few people at the games. There’s this stereotype that women can’t play sports as well as men, but if people took the time to watch a game they’d see women play just as tough, or more, than men do.”
Molly Linn, shooting guard and point guard for the LCCC women’s basketball team, sees the connection between a winning season and the amount of fans that attend matches and games. “I would like to see more spectators and more players but that comes with time and winning seasons. The more you win, the more people want to watch.”
A trend throughout the 2014-15 women’s basketball team’s season was a majority of spectators showing up only towards the end of the game in order to find seats for the men’s team’s game that followed. The women’s soccer team also saw this with the exception of their matches held on different days than the men’s team.
There are currently four women’s teams offered at LCCC (soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball). The cross country and tennis teams are coed, but do have several female athletes recognized for their abilities on the track and court.
The 2014 LCCC women’s volleyball team finished second in the NJCAA National Tournament with a seasonal record of 24-11. Since some of the other teams have had difficult seasons it can reduce the amount of fans who come to their matches.
There is also a growing trend in how many of the women athletes at LCCC. Since the beginning of the 2015 fall semester five women have been acknowledged by the college and athletic department. During the 2015 spring semester three women were named on the Honor Roll list and eight on the High Honor Roll list. Despite this rise there is little to none in regards to scholarships for the student athletes, male or female. ““It can be stressful being a full time student and also playing a sport.” added Linn. “Hopefully soon LCCC can start offering its student athletes scholarships to come play so that the variety of athletes can be unlimited.”
What the student athletes want the most is for the future of the women’s teams at LCCC to filled with new and hopeful athletes, understanding, and respect. “I’d like to see more understanding for female athletes,” Al-Ghaben said. “To play a sport takes dedication and hard work well before the season starts. Women play with sprained knees, severely swollen feet, bruises everywhere, and sometimes worse injuries; all because they love their respective sport. I’d like to see more respect for soccer players, even if it’s not as popular as volleyball or softball.”
“If anything that makes us work harder,” added Al-Ghaben. “My last year playing for the men’s team made me realize the men have their strengths and females have theirs but together it’s a great combination, being a female athlete and being compared to men a lot just makes us work harder but that should never be a bad thing. Maybe men should start being compared to how great females are at sports.”
There are the more personal blessings that the athletes enjoy despite the lack of fans at their games.“The biggest positive of being a female athlete is being a role model for my daughters,” Al-Ghaben mentioned. “They watched a couple games and thought it was so cool that their mommy was playing college soccer.”
“I would like to continue to see everyone being treated equal and fan support,” Savarino added. “My team and I would like to thank the fans that did come out and support us.”