Kaitlyn Fulmore, Contributing Writer
A successful run in the Atlantic 10 championship brought women’s basketball to a second-place conference spot, and a new VCU initiative is ensuring that these accomplishments –– along with those of other women’s teams –– are equally highlighted and celebrated.
Women’s basketball redshirt guard Madison Hattix-Covington said some students weren’t aware of the team’s accomplishments at the championship.
“I know a lot of students did not know that,” the junior said. “I had a professor once ask our class, ‘Did anyone know that VCU women’s basketball were in the top two in the conference?’ Most people in the class did not know.”
BoostHer, an initiative from VCU Athletics, aims to push women’s sports to the forefront. The program was developed by the Ram Athletic Fund and will spotlight women’s programs through six pillars:
- Raise funds to support female sports programs and student-athletes
- Foster a community of support, empowerment and growth for VCU female student-athletes
- Provide resources to enhance VCU’s women’s sports programs, career programs and events
- Participate in professional and personal development of student-athletes
- Engage the community with VCU women’s sports programs
- Provide opportunities to recognize the accomplishments of female student-athletes
“There’s a larger society issue, underneath, in trying to tap into that market, and trying to get people as invested in women’s sports as they are in men’s,” said Evan Nicely, assistant sports information director. “Hopefully one day, we will all get there.”
The initiative grew out of the VCU Women for Women’s Athletic Council as a way to engage with a broader group of fans, according to BoostHER cofounder Cindy Dulik.
“Over the last year, we worked to re-evaluate the needs of our student-athletes and women’s sports team with the support of the VCU Athletic Department and the coaches of the women’s sports teams,” said Sharon Darby, BoostHER co-chairperson. “Based on their feedback, we recognized that we were well poised to elevate our support to the female student-athletes to be more inclusive.”
BoostHER held the VCU Women’s Golf Classic at Willow Oaks on Oct. 5 to raise donations.
Senior student-athlete Paula Neciporuka said female athletes need to “get to know each other better.” Building a community among female student-athletes is another aspect that BoostHER aims to address.
“You know how it is with women, we don’t really know each other but we’re already making decisions about how the person is,” Neciporuka said. “If we had more interaction with them, and get to know them better, that would be good.”
A forum for female athletes to interact could solve another issue in women’s sports programs: game attendance.
“I think it would be cool to be informed about when their games are or have emails sent to all the teams with schedules,” senior basketball guard Tera Reed said. “That’s one thing I wish I did more since I’ve been here, interacting with the other female student-athletes.”
Darby said BoostHER plans to help attendance by capitalizing on former student-athletes, donors and community supporters to develop a community that supports and celebrates female athletes.
Reed is excited to see what this program will do to help and grow the female athletic community.
“I think it’s cool to be a part of, and just see it happening,” Reed said. “I have friends at other colleges and they don’t get that opportunity to even just be recognized, and I’m so glad that VCU is doing this.”