I have a challenge, a plea, for all women alumni: Give.Back.
Yesterday I returned from my former homeland of five years (La Crosse, Wisconsin) where I participated in the women’s track and field alumni indoor meet. Since I had started at UW-La Crosse in 2005 I had no knowledge of any such track meet taking place. That’s because it didn’t. This year was a rebirth of the alumni track representation that was lost many many years ago because of a lack of participation from former teammates. Thankfully, a bold and amazing woman, Katie Wager, the assistant coach of the cross country and track and field team at UW-L, convinced the head coach that this type of meet was needed.
After the competition, the alumni and current athletes gathered in the room that we had done so often for pump up talks and team meetings to introduce ourselves. It was a great experience to get to revisit our past, meet others that had been there before us, and be introduced to those that were experiencing the fun and trials of being part of this team right now. At the end of the meeting, one of the alumni spoke about how great it was to have the alumni come back for this special event. She complimented us on our ability to translate our experiences into life past athletes, something that the women’s programs have always been proud of. Then at the end, she casually mentioned that she is taking donations for the team and that we could see her afterwards if we wanted to give financially.
That got me thinking. As an alumnus it is my duty to give back. I think about how wonderful it would have been if during my time with the program if we would have been more financially sound. The Division 3 story is much different than the Division 1 story. My favorite example of this is trip to Mount Sac. I had to research the race. I had to ask my coach if I could go. I had to talk to the athletic director to get permission. I had to pay for my flight to and from California. I had to sign myself up for the race. I had to book my hotel. I had to figure out how I was going to get to the race. I had to go there alone. I had heard that the men’s program had taken an athlete (and coach!) to Mount Sac in the past, and were thinking about doing it more recently. As I wrote to the A.D. to ask permission to go I could not help but think that the men’s team would not have to go through such measures in order to go, but that they had enough money to allow a talented athlete and coach to go (making the coach able to figure out all the details so the athlete could focus on the race).
Although there were other things to deal with besides racing, it was a great experience which taught me how to be independent, make connections, and be in uncomfortable situations, but it wasn’t until I got there and Ann explained to me how her experience at Nebraska (Division 1) was much different than mine. Her team had the financial stability to send their athletes there no problem; they fed them, flew them, and made sure they did not have to worry about transportation. The only thing they had to worry about was running fast.