Events held both on campus and off as part of Daemen College’s celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Week from April 3 to 8 were hailed as largely successful by Bridget Niland, director of athletics.
On-campus events, which were graciously presented by The Advantage Company, included speeches from Boston College Hall of Fame inductee Kathleen Sweet and U.S. Paralympian April Holmes, both of whom spoke to Daemen’s student-athletes and other invited guests about the impact that competing in athletics has played in their lives. Off-campus events included the East Coast Conference Senior Woman Administrator Professional Series, a day-long retreat attended by Daemen’s female athletics administrators, and select student-athletes, as well as the Western New York Girls in Sport Service Day held at the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena.
“When we started celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day here at Daemen several years ago, I never thought that it would grow into the week-long celebration that it is today,” said Niland. “The student-athlete experience and service back to our community are at the forefront of everything we do here at Daemen, and those initiatives continue to be the driving force behind events like the ones held for this special celebration.”
Sweet, a Clarence native and former basketball standout at Boston College, spoke on April 4 at the Premier Center Cabaret in the MusicalFare Theatre. Now a partner in the law firm of Gibson, McAskills, Crosby, LLP in Buffalo, she spoke of her time playing scholastic and collegiate sports, and how those experiences have helped her attain success in the complex world of litigation, leading to her nomination by former U.S. President Barack Obama to serve as judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.
On April 7, Holmes shared the inspiring story of her rise to prominence as the fastest female amputee in the world at an event held in Lumsden Gymnasium. After suffering a personal tragedy that resulted in the loss of her left leg below the knee, the former Norfolk State University track star went on to win three Paralympic medals and five World Championship medals. Her message of persistence in the face of adversity struck a lasting chord with the audience.
As part of the event, Robert “Bobby” Mills, Daemen’s senior advisor to the president, was honored as the recipient of this year’s Be Fierce Award, which recognizes contributions to the advancement of girls and women in sports. A father of two daughters who have competed in athletics, he is a constant figure at Daemen Athletics events and a major supporter of collegiate athletics as a whole.
The week-long celebration concluded on April 8 as Daemen’s female student-athletes participated in the Western New York Girls in Sports Service Day, a collaborative effort between Daemen, UB, and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. The event brought area youths in contact with collegiate student-athletes for a day of instruction, competition, and fun, all aimed at promoting the power and positive influence that sports can play in the lives of young people.