Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator
After dissolving for a year, WALC has officially been brought back
The Women’s Athletic Leadership Committee was originally formed during the 2017-2018 season. However, during the pandemic season, the committee unfortunately dissolved. This year, it has been revamped, spearheaded by fifth-year basketball player Sarah Gates.
“My coach [Theresa Burns] has been a huge advocate for women's sports ever since I was in first year. She's always kind of encouraged us to find our voices and stand up for things we believe in and as I'm now in fifth year I kind of realized that I'm super passionate about women in sport,” said Gates.
WALC is made up of several teams that focus on initiatives such as education panels, fundraising, special events and community outreach. WALC also includes team representatives. The goal of WALC is to create a platform that empowers women athletes and encourages them to find their voice. During her past four years as a female student-athlete, Gates realized an opportunity to step up as a leader, and aid female student-athletes to find greater success by utilizing the community around them.
Mia Spadafora is also a member of WALC and she sits on the educational panel's executive team. She, like Gates, stressed the importance of the committee going forward.
“There are a lot of women in sport, especially women in Canadian sport, that don't really get the light shed on them that they need and deserve. So it's really important that we can kind of form and start this in our own community before hopefully getting more of an outreach and growing that towards other people and other communities,” explained Spadafora.
For Spadafora and Gates, WALC is just the first step in generating a larger spotlight on female sports. They focus on women supporting women as they advocate for themselves and their own well-deserved recognition.
For example, they hope to begin with women's teams going out to support other women's teams at their games. Spadafora explained that the stadium only starts to get full near the end of the game as spectators come out to watch the men’s game that happens right after. As such, simply putting women's sports on the map and building awareness is a high priority and challenge for the committee.
However, simply empowering female McMaster athletes is not enough for this team. Gates wants to be able to reach out into the community as role models and mentors to people of all ages and experiences, from alumni to those who are no longer actively competing.
In addition to encouraging awareness, WALC has many events planned on the horizon. In October, they recently completed their first workshop, the WALC Empower Hour designed to support female student-athletes in all aspects of their life including nutrition, sleep habits and networking.
In November, they are planning an alumni panel with a coaches panel in December. They are also starting community outreach virtually by conversing with community and club teams about goals, goal setting and balancing a student-athlete lifestyle. There are many more events in the works, including a women’s athletic leadership event for International Women’s Day in the second semester with continuous workshops and panel discussions.
WALC is back and here to stay. Be sure to keep an eye out for their events. Tickets for the women’s basketball and volleyball games are now available at https://mcmaster.universitytickets.com/.