Updated: Apr 22, 2022
They play as kids in knee-length jerseys and as D-I athletes in college colors.
They fall and fail. They rise again to raise trophies.
They’re questioned for becoming parents or proving critics wrong.
But girls and women in sport show up. They show up to make an impact, to have fun, to break records, to support their teammates, to represent, and on Wednesday, girls and women in sports are celebrated.
National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Feb. 2 recognizes those who work toward equitable opportunities in the world of athletics.
At Belmont Athletics, current faculty icons like senior woman administrator Renee Schultz and assistant AD for compliance Heather Copeland help the show behind the scenes.
Schultz is a previous soccer Bruin who now feels a responsibility of keeping the conversation of equity access to sports going, she said.
Copeland acknowledges the women in leadership positions at Belmont who work towards creating a great experience for their student-athletes.
“It is a privilege and blessing to work around so many confident and professional women in athletics here at Belmont,” Copeland said.
Among other influential women in Belmont Athletics are Kim Anderson, Dr. Mary Vaughn, Kim Cummings and Jennifer Johnson, along with coaches and assistant coaches who make a difference in their student-athletes’ lives.
Another honored name at Belmont, someone who made big waves for her generation, is Betty Wiseman.
The trailblazing Middle Tennessee legend came to Belmont as a student, she graduated in 1965, continued as an associate professor of health and physical education and eventually founded and coached the women’s basketball program at the university in 1968 — one of the first of its kind in the southeast.
Betty Wiseman in 2014. Belmont Athletics
Playing many roles at the university over 52 years, Wiseman retired in 2013 following a breast cancer diagnosis. But look over to the reserved seats on Curb Event Center game days, and she is still right there behind the bench, supporting her Bruins.
On that same court, decorated players bring their nationally recognized game.
It’s a collaboration that proves playing like a girl at Belmont can lead to big wins.
And although they might not get the attention they deserve from Belmont fans, the women’s basketball team matters.
They matter, just like the rest of the strong and capable women teams and strong athletes at Belmont matter.
The soccer team’s supportive bench during the 2021-2022 season’s OVC tournament quarterfinal on Oct. 31. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson
Current athletes follow the powerful steps of previous generations, including Belmont Athletics hall-of-famers like Charlotte Speakman, Sherri Wright Dickens, Lynette Rives, Cristin Czubik Allen and a list that goes on and on — but there are more men’s names on that list than women’s.
“As we celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day and embark upon the 50th Anniversary of Title IX, I am indebted to all the women who helped pave the way in striving for more equitable opportunities for females,” Schultz said.
Throughout Belmont Athletics, women demonstrate what excellence in sports looks like.
Whether it’s Wiseman leading a group of student-athletes on mission trips or fiercely fighting cancer.
Whether it’s head athletic trainer Kim Anderson taping countless basketballers’ ankles in the trainer room or standing on the sidelines as the only woman on staff for the men’s team.
Whether it’s the softball Bruins showing confidence and leadership at their winter hitting camps or welcoming a woman contributing broadcaster for the upcoming season.
The women of Belmont Athletics contribute tirelessly to the growth of the program on NGWSD day and every other, building on the past and fighting for an equitable future in sports.
“I am the beneficiary of former trailblazers, like our own Betty Wiseman, and will be forever grateful for the work that they started more than 50 years ago,” Schultz said.
Though Belmont Athletics does not have any on-campus games this week, the department will be celebrating their women student-athletes, coaches and staff on social media throughout National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
PHOTO: Women’s cross-country volunteer coach and 2021 graduate Anna Arrick (left) and assistant coach Kate Bucknam at the fall season’s Belmont Opener. Their ladies later ran home the program’s first OVC Championship victory. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson
This article was written by Jessica Mattsson. Mattsson is a student-athlete on Belmont’s track and field team.