Forgotten Females: Resurgence of Male Sports Overshadows Fordham’s Female Athletes

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The 2012-2013 Fordham women’s basketball team experienced one of its most successful seasons in school history
Photo courtesy of Fordham Women’s Basketball Facebook Page

The glory days are here again at Rose Hill. With the tremendous success of the football team this fall, and the men’s basketball team off to a hot start this season, Fordham Athletics is in the midst of a revival.

The recent success of the Rams on the gridiron and hardwood has alumni, faculty, and students buzzing about the resurgence of Fordham Athletics. While focusing on this resurgence, however, Fordham fans have seemingly lost sight of the recent successes of female athletics.

“If you ask most regular students at Fordham what sports we’re good at, many people don’t know the answer,” said Ashleigh Aitchison, a Fordham junior and member of the women’s rowing team. “They just know that we used to be bad at football, but now we’re good at it. I find myself saying, ‘Well, we’re really good at softball and women’s basketball, too.’ They’ve made it to the A10 tournament and softball has even won championships, and students at Fordham just don’t know these things.”

While members of the Fordham community have been waiting for a revival in men’s athletics, several women’s teams at Fordham have been doing just what Ram fans have been waiting for: winning.

For instance, last season, the women’s basketball team made it all the way to the Atlantic 10 Championship game and came within one point of winning the title. The Rams were chosen to play past their conference tournament for just the second time in school history, when they were selected to play in the WNIT tournament. They finished their season in the WNIT round of 16 with a record of 26-9, which was the second-highest win total in school history and the team’s first winning record in 19 seasons.

Additionally, last spring, the women’s softball team won their second Atlantic 10 Championship in three seasons, and advanced to their third NCAA tournament in four seasons.

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The Fordham women’s softball team won its second Atlantic 10 Championship in three years in 2013
Photo courtesy of Tom Wasiczko

“I remember being really frustrated last year when the women’s basketball team and softball team were doing really well,” Aitchison said. “It seemed like there was not as much celebration about their successes as there should have been. People tend to forget that the teams that have won at Fordham over the past few years have been women’s teams.”

Aitchison’s rowing squad won gold at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston on October 20th, becoming the first ever Fordham women’s crew to do so at this regatta.

“It wasn’t a big shock that we didn’t get much recognition for winning the Head of the Charles, even though it is the largest regatta in the world with over 9,000 competitors and 42 other crews in our event,” Aitchison said.

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The Fordham women’s club 4 boat won gold for the first time at the Head of the Charles regatta in October
Photo courtesy of FordhamSports.com

As a result of the lack of fanfare that Fordham’s female athletes receive, women’s sports do not draw nearly as many fans to their games and competitions as men’s sports do.

“It’s disheartening for some female athletes who see many students and fans supporting the men and not attending the women’s games,” said Abigail Corning, a senior captain of the women’s basketball team. “The style of play is different, but that doesn’t mean that women’s games are not as good or exciting to watch.”

Elise Fortier, a senior captain on the women’s softball team, believes that it will take the development of a winning culture among women’s sports at Fordham for them to become relevant.

“If more than one or two women’s teams consistently win Atlantic 10 Championships, then I think women’s sports will collectively receive more attention at Fordham,” Fortier stated. “Because football and men’s basketball are so popular, it only takes one winning season for these sports to receive incredible amounts of attention. Whereas, with women’s sports, there needs to be a group of teams doing well in order to get recognition.”

Only time will tell if Fordham’s women’s sports will ever receive the same respect and recognition that men’s sports get at Rose Hill. Until then, Fordham’s female athletes will continue to wave the old maroon on high, hoping that one day they will get their due.

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