Alumni relations holds Women in Whitman Athletics panel

Tucker Grinnan, Sports Reporter

On Oct. 22, Whitman alumni relations hosted a panel titled “Women in Whitman Athletics” as a part of this semester’s online engagement for the athletics department.

The panel brought together several women in leadership positions from within the athletic department to discuss topics including the challenges and triumphs of being women in predominantly male-dominated fields, as well as the power of athletics to shape student athletes’ futures.

Whitman alumni relations holds ‘Women in Whitman Athletics’ panel. Photo contributed by Jennifer Northam.

The panelists included men and women’s swimming Head Coach Jenn Blomme; women’s basketball Head Coach Michelle Ferenz; women’s lacrosse Head Coach Kirkland Lewis; women’s soccer Head Coach Michelle Voiland; Assistant Athletic Trainer Anna Doyel; and Athletic Director Kim Chandler.

Director of alumni relations Jennifer Northam organized the event as part of alumni programming and co-ordinated with the W-Club.

“I wanted to do something that would highlight athletics and especially our women. We have more women in the athletic department than we have ever had, and I thought that was worth sharing,” Northam said.

She chose the panelists and designed the questions with a purpose in mind, to intentionally try to position panelist dynamics that could improve the conversation.

“I really liked the idea of including a coach brand new to our system and a coach that has been part of our system for twenty plus years. Both have the same kind of desire to connect their student athletes with alumni, but go about it in different ways,” Northam said.

Panelist Coach Michelle Voiland, Head Coach of the Women’s Soccer Team, expressed a similar sentiment, noting that, in her eyes, the panel had the power to be really impactful.

“We’re starting to get more and more head female coaches in the college ranks, but we’re still the minority,” Coach Voiland said. “It was a really great opportunity to highlight some of the women coaches in our department, to talk about the programs, talk about leadership and how important it is to recognize that the scholarly athlete develops particular skills because they are part of a team, which translate over into the real world really well.”

For panel moderator Christy Krutulis, a former varsity tennis athlete and current W-Club president, the event was a success on multiple fronts.

“For me what we established was a chance for the coaches to share their experiences and stories and to promote women in athletics,” Krutulis said, “but the real testament would be if you joined the conversation and learned more about our coaches and their views on women in athletics as you had hoped to.”