“The Seven Sisters are seven liberal arts colleges in the Northeastern United States that are historically women’s colleges. They are Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College. All were founded between 1837 and 1889. Four are in Massachusetts, two are in New York, and one is in Pennsylvania. Radcliffe (which merged with Harvard College) and Vassar (which is now coeducational) are no longer women’s colleges. Today, the remaining five schools refer to themselves collectively as “The Sisters.”” (from Wikipedia)
“Women were not active in intercollegiate sport until basketball was introduced at Smith College in 1892 (Gerber, et al., 1974). Basketball quickly spread to other colleges, and students began to clamor for intercollegiate play… The first intercollegiate competition among women was a scheduled tennis tournament between Bryn Mawr and Vassar. It was canceled because the Vassar faculty did not allow their women’s athletes to participate in competition between colleges (Hult, 1994).”
The Seven Sister’s Squash Championship is – or should be, unless you are a traitor the the feminist cause, or do not believe in the vision of the great education and leadership opportunities that are available at a women-only college – the most important squash championship for student-athletes at a women’s college. It is the only championship where one of the most important ingredient’s in sport is present – a “level playing field”. Since only a relatively small percentage of high school girls will consider attending a women’s college, it means (it does not take an Einstein to crunch the numbers – just simple math) that there is not a “level playing field” when women’s colleges compete against co-ed institutions, since they must draw from a much smaller pool of high ability athletic recruits.
Most American’s are unaware of the existence of this concept of “a level playing field” since they depend, in an uncritical fashion, on the “professional sports model” (due to over-mediatization) for their definition of sport. The pro sport organizations’ attempts to “buy a championship” through high player salaries is mirrored in American college sport through recruiting practices – both fair and unfair, where coaches try to “build a program” (so a “program-centered” approach), and improve their win-loss record, rather than actually coach their athletes to improve both their athletic skill (student-centered approach) and help the athlete with the myriad of other benefits that Colleges tout as the “benefits of athletics participation”.
This uncritical approach to examining sport extends to the Olympics where the U.S. continue to rate themselves as the “winner”, while even a rudimentary calculation (divide the number of medals by a country’s GDP) reveals that the U.S. sport system is one of the most inefficient in the world.
At this year’s Seven Sister’s Squash Championship held at Smith, Mount Holyoke dominated (they had a few great recruiting years a while ago;) Vassar in the final – but Smith and Wellesley went at it “hammer and tong” in their third match of the season. Smith lost their season opener on November 13th to the “Blue”, but despite losing their #2 Oblamski and #6 Inskeep, to junior semester abroad studies, reversed that result on January 15, and increased the spread yesterday with a 6-3 win!
Smith #4 Helen Queenan and #6 Co-Captain Elizabeth Guyman (second and third from the left respectively) made the All-Tournament Team – decided, in typical women’s college fashion, by the nomination of two players from each of the participating teams:)
It was also the last home match of the season for three of the Smith seniors. Smith Coach Tim Bacon presented them with flowers during introductions – and they all played superbly! Here is some short video of their play:
A short note on the sportsmanship of Mount Holyoke Squash Coach Allen Fitzsimmons – Allen sat four of his players for the first round Smith -Mount Holyoke Match so that the individual matches would be close, and therefore of more benefit to the individual players – thanks Allen!