In the spring of 1999, Smith Head Coach Tim Bacon suggested to his Athletic Director, Lynn Oberbillig, that the Seven Sisters Athletic Directors (who make all the decisions regarding competitions) initiate a Championship for squash – since there was one for all of the other varsity sports. Sure enough, the following season, the first Seven Sister’s Squash Championship was held at Haverford College.
Since then support for the Seven Sister’s Squash Championship has been variable, with Haverford withdrawing from the competition in squash (other teams in other sports), a reduction in the Championship budget (play reduced to a one-day elimination format), and few efforts to grow the championship. One such effort was Tim Bacon’s attempt to involve more women’s colleges in squash with a “Women’s College Squash Championship” (held at Smith College – Smith finished second) – invitations (thorough the Women College Coalition Executive Director Susan Lennox) were sent to every women’s college in the U.S.!
Hopefully Hillary’s announcement of an initiative by the State Department to foster Seven Sister’s collaboration (including a conference this fall) will put Seven Sister’s Athletic Competition back in the forefront where it belongs (Administrators seem to be have been distracted by NEWMAC Conference issues and the NCAA – neither institution having the well-being of female athletics issues as its central mission);
Hillary Clinton on the collaboration:
“Together we will seek to promote the next generation of women leaders who will invest in their countries and communities, provide leadership for their governments and societies, and help change the way global solutions are developed,” Clinton said. “‘The Seven Sisters … have a rich tradition of educating and inspiring women leaders from around the world for over 30 generations.”
In squash at least the Seven Sister’s competition is very special” – a certain camaraderie not evident in other championships – this is from last year’s competition at Vassar College:
And this one is from this year’s at Smith College – Smith AD Lynn Oberbillig is handing out the all-tournament awards:
This friendship creates some very special situations – here we have Smith College volunteering to officiate this year’s final between eventual champion Mount Holyoke and Vassar (normally the team’s competing officiate their own matches – this friendly act allows the competing teams to enjoy and focus more on their play – something not done at any other college squash competition in the U.S.!).
Hopefully Hillary’s announcement will lead to:
- refocus by Seven Sister’s Ads on the importance of these championships – including budget increases to allow for ideal competition formats (e.g., round robin over elimination, funding for overnight stays);
- re-emphasis by Seven Sister’s Presidents on collaboration – including Seven Sister’s athletics competition – it seems like a simple, low-cost (have the President attend or even mention the occurrence of the event) way to promote women’s education and leadership;
- rethinking of ways to promote Seven Sisters – for example perhaps holding a Seven Sister’s multi-sport “festival-style” event (soccer, volleyball, tennis, squash, cross-country) around the upcoming conference in the fall of 2011!
Read more about Hillary’s initiative here and watch her on video here: