Symposium Gets Women In Sports Week Underway

Symposium Gets Women In Sports Week Underway

(Cover photo from L to R: WAVE 3 News’ Connie Leonard moderates a panel that includes Tim Sullivan, Dr. Vanessa Shannon, Kim Pemberton, Sandy Pearsall, and Christine Herring. Credit: Ashli McLean)

Ashli McLean

The Louisville Women’s Sports Network (LWSN) kicked off its “Women In Sports Week” on Sept. 19 with the Women In Sports Breakfast Symposium. The event took place from 8-10 a.m. at the University Club and Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Louisville.

In a room attended by local high school and collegiate athletic directors, coaches, athletic administrators, and media, WAVE 3 News’ Connie Leonard emceed the event as a panel of esteemed sports guests discussed a variety of topics related to females in sport. Topics included: growing opportunities for women in athletic administration; identification in sport for female versus male athletes; balance of home, family, and work life of female athletic administrators; the highs and lows of recruiting female athletes; specialization in sport; and more.

The panel was comprised of five guests from media and coaching to athletics administration and sports psychology. Among the wide range of topics that were discussed, Courier-Journal sports columnist Tim Sullivan discussed Title IX’s entrance in 1972 and the growth of women in sport, particularly the Olympics. Dr. Vanessa Shannon, director of mental performance for U of L Athletics, harped on themes such as gender equity in how sports are socialized in our society. Kim Pemberton, assistant sport information director for U of L, discussed her experiences and insight throughout her career in sports media as a woman. Louisville head softball coach Sandy Pearsall shared things usch as her relationship with athletic director Tom Jurich and his unwavering commitment to equity amongst all of Louisville’s sports, as well as how travel softball affect college recruiting. And Christine Herring, senior woman administrator of U of L Athletics, described climbing that particular career ladder and balancing it all.

“I think it’s good, especially for the city of Louisville to bring the attention to women in sports,” said Pemberton on the symposium, “and hopefully it helps people to help improve sports and the women here.”

Pemberton will be entering her 18th year at U of L this November. On what topic stood out to her, she added, “I think the most interesting was what Vanessa Shannon was saying in the differences between how women and men compete and what their goals are in sports.”

Shannon added, “I do think that as much as we all want to focus on the improvements that have been made relative to women in sport, there is a lot of progress that needs to be made on the way in which we socialize children and what is acceptable behavior.”

She went on to describe the types of toys that are marketed to boys versus girls, and the disparity between sport toys being marketed to girls.

“So for me it goes back to that cultural acceptance, like when are we gonna get to a space where it’s acceptable for women and girls to make this [sport] a priority in their lives.”

The symposium concluded with questions from the audience.

About Women In Sports Week

The University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women In Sport published the following stat: forty percent of all athletic participants are female, yet only four percent of sports media coverage is dedicated to women’s athletics. The LWSN continues its mission through the Women In Sports Week, WISH, and promoting a #40and4 awareness campaign in an effort to cover and celebrate our city’s most talented and deserving female athletes.

Produced by the Louisville Women’s Sports Network, the Women In Sports Week marks the first time in Louisville – and one of only a few times in the nation – that an entire week of events celebrating women’s activities takes place at locations throughout the city. The week, in partnership with University of Louisville Athletics, will hold events the from Sept. 19-23 that engage the community in the recognition and importance of women’s athletics. The Women In Sports Week is presented by KentuckyOne Health Sports Medicine and Kroger. It is supported in part by Bill Collins Ford, WAVE 3 News, and Alpha Media.