Beyond the Game: Women, Sports, and Competition


Beyond the Game

On Monday, March 11, a high-powered panel extolled the power of athletics to change young women’s lives. The event honored the 35th anniversary of the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium, as well as Women’s History Month. Barnard is the only women’s college in the country to compete at the Division I level.

Panelists included Meghan Duggan, three-time Olympic medalist and US National Women’s Hockey Team Captain, who led her team to gold in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and also led a strike for pay equity with the men’s team. She was joined by Judie Lomax ’10, a former professional basketball player and the first Barnard-Columbia women’s player to be named Ivy League Athlete of the Year; Caroline Nelson-Nichols, another former Olympian and the Columbia Lions’ head coach in field hockey; and Michele Roberts, the Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association. The event was moderated by NBC News and NBC Sports reporter Dylan Dreyer, who covered the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang for NBC.

Beyond the Game


President Sian Beilock, an avid runner and former student-athlete who played soccer, noted, “Being part of a team teaches collaboration, cooperation, resilience, perseverance. It teaches you how to fail and to get up and try again. It’s something I use in all my life’s endeavors.”

Peter Pilling, Columbia’s athletic director, shared with the audience the success Columbia women’s student-athletes and teams have accomplished over the last 35 years since the start of the Columbia-Barnard Consortium: 11 national team championships, 13 NCAA individual championships, 107 First Team All-Americans, 13 Olympians who have won five medals, 23 Ivy League team championships and 140 individual Ivy League champions. He added, “We’re grateful for all that our women do in competition and in the classroom, and how they represent these two great institutions.”

“We believe in the power of sports as part of the educational experience,” Executive Director of the Ivy League Robin Harris said. “There are a lot of studies about the benefit of sports with teenage girls and with college-age student-athletes.”

“I was the leading scorer on my field hockey team. It was a brand-new sport at my school, and I scored five goals all season, but a stat is a stat,” moderator Dylan Dreyer quipped to widespread laughter.

The panelists agreed that competition among women is vital and healthy. “I try to be competitive in everything,” Duggan said. “I’d like to win a gold medal for washing my car.” Competition, they explained, means striving for excellence, pushing yourself and those around you to do better, putting in hard work and sacrifice. Practicing these habits early on helps women succeed in an inherently competitive world.

“Some of my classmates [in grad school] were hesitant to take chances and risks because they were afraid to fail,” Lomax noted. “But I was OK with failing, because I knew it was an opportunity for me to correct and to assess where I was and how to improve.” She added, “Learning a new move or learning a

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