Celebrating 40 Years of Women's Hawks Athletics

Four decades ago, Saint Anselm College established its first women’s athletics program with teams in tennis, basketball and volleyball for the 1976-1977 academic year. Fast-forward to 2017: The college’s women’s sports program fields teams in 10 sports, equal to the number of sports in which men compete.

To commemorate the equity achieved in Hawks athletics, Saint Anselm College held “Celebrating 40 Years
of Women’s Athletics” in February. Women’s sports figures of past and present spoke, inspired and reminisced in an event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Linda Connly '87Linda Connly ’87 played basketball; her remarks about her team’s camaraderie were applauded by numerous teammates at the celebration. Connly noted the tremendous overall progress of women’s athletics at Saint Anselm. Similarly, Connly’s daughter Olivia ’17 (Lacrosse) and Rose Mooney ’17 (Field Hockey, commented on the close interpersonal relationships fostered by team sports.

Rose Mooney and Olivia ConnlyAnother perspective came from Dr. Jo-Ann Nester, a two-time former Director of Athletics at Saint Anselm. Dr. Nester credited Title IX of the Education Amendments Act with a somewhat-literal leveling of the playing fields. Title IX was specifically created to provide women equal opportunities with men in collegiate athletics. Northeast-10 Conference Commissioner Julie Ruppert, the first female commissioner of an NCAA Division II conference, then recounted the history of women’s athletics within the Northeast-10 Conference.

Remarking after the event, Courtney McGrath, Senior Woman Administrator and Associate Athletic Director of Compliance & Student Welfare, summarized the historical commemoration. Looking at the gathered alumni, faculty, athletics staff and students, she observed: “They’re the reason we’re here.”