Trinity Female Athletes on their Protest Participation

5 min read

Bailey McKeon ’22

Features Editor

Have you seen the pictures of members of women’s athletic teams sitting in the bleachers circulating on social media? Last week 130 female athletes gathered at Robin L. Sheppard Field to hear the grievances of women’s field hockey and lacrosse players, who were promised permanent constructed seating at their field for this fall, and gather in solidarity of female athletes suffering from gender inequalities in athletics. After taking photos at both Robin L. Sheppard Field and Jesse/Miller Field, the women headed over to the softball field to shed light on the experience of the softball players. Softball players work with a broken scoreboard, a frequently flooded field, and a lack of seating and lights. Many of the athletes have noticed and reported disparities between the treatment of their own team and their counterpart men’s team during their time at Trinity. 

As far as the experience of the field hockey players, in 2019 the athletic department gave a presentation showing the planned construction of seating at both Jesse/Miller and Robin L. Sheppard fields. The field hockey team was looking forward to having permanent seating at their field that would accommodate 1000 spectators. At the presentation, it was also revealed that Trinity would host the field hockey NCAA tournament in the fall of 2021, this fall. When the field hockey team arrived at campus this past August, the construction at Jesse/Miller field was practically finished while their own had yet to begin. Athletic Director Drew Galbraith made an appearance at a field hockey practice to inform the players that the bleachers would arrive any day now and the construction would be done quickly.  

To the players’ surprise, the construction was completed in eight hours. That’s because, instead of the stadium they were promised, only a few temporary 5-row bleachers were assembled to the side of the Robin L. Sheppard field, right behind the massive permanent stadium at Jesse/Miller field. This was especially surprising considering the historical parity between Robin L. Sheppard and Jesse/Miller fields. “This is frustrating for us because it doesn’t even accommodate 1000 people like it was supposed to,” Field Hockey captain India Shay ’22 expressed. Shay and her fellow teammates take on the Connecticut College Camels, who’s coach approves the seating for the NCAA tournament, on Tuesday, Oct. 12. The athletes anticipate that upon evaluation of their seating that day, the chance to host NCAAs will likely be stripped from Trinity. “That’s a huge opportunity lost,” Shay noted. 

Inspired by the disappointment and sadness visible on their coach’s face when seeing the new bleachers, the field hockey players ignited their passion for change. The players met with Drew Galbraith to ask him what happened to the stadium they were promised. His answer was that, because of COVID and the associated costs, the athletic department needed to take from the women’s field hockey and lacrosse budget. Galbraith also explained that the architect who drew the image of the expected stadium at Robin L. Sheppard field simply got “carried away.” Additionally, Galbraith revealed that there were no formal discussions or plans about changing what had happened, besides putting up Trinity banners on the bleachers. “We aren’t asking for aesthetic, we’re asking for appropriate seating,” Shay said.  

The team also released a petition. In fact, the same day the petition was released, the athletic department sent out emails to athletic alums asking for donations. The field hockey alums, who are aware of what’s been going on, immediately responded stating that they would not donate to the athletic department at this time as they do not trust that their money will be used in a fair way. 

The petition requests that this mistake must be fixed by January. “Right now, we have to accept the fact that nothing is going to be done in five weeks, which is disappointing for a senior like me, but hopefully something can be done in time for women’s lacrosse season this spring,” Shay explained.  

Shay and her teammates’ initial goal was to bring awareness. Now that the petition has around 2,000 signatures and a conversation about the disparities between men and women’s athletics at Trinity has begun, the players now just hope to receive some communication from the administration acknowledging that they made a mistake and promising that they are going to work towards actively fixing it. “The lack of validation and acknowledgment of this has been extremely upsetting,” Shay expressed.  

Galbraith has only noted in a meeting with the players that he is disappointed he has made the players feel this way. In a meeting with a member of the board, however, it was admitted that what happened was unacceptable, inexcusable, and needs to be fixed. Supposedly, the board was as much in the dark as the players were. They were under the impression that the photo from the original presentation would be constructed.  

Shay and other members of the field hockey team plan to meet with Galbraith today for discussion. “I hope they feel the pressure and want to take action to change it,” Shay said. 

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