Jan 31, 2024

“Playing For Her” Highlights the Voices of Women Student-Athletes on SCSU Campus


A new event on the St. Cloud State University campus uplifts the voices of women student-athletes. SCSU Women’s Center hosted the first “Playing for Her” event from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Atwood Glacier Room. The event featured a diverse panel of SCSU women student-athletes and highlighted the importance of equality, equity and justice within women’s sports. According to event facilitator Kara Cowell, they created the event to bring women athletes together and give them a platform to share their experiences. One woman from each sports team was represented, except from basketball due to a scheduling conflict. The student-athletes answered questions about leadership and what advice they’d give to their younger selves. Cowell says they “look forward to having new voices and new faces in the future” for this event.


By Maya Geving / News Reporter

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KVSC) — On Tuesday, Jan. 30, St. Cloud State University Women’s Center hosted “Playing for Her” on campus, an event that showcased SCSU student-athletes and their experiences as women in sports.

“We planned this event to tie all of the women’s athletics team members together,” said Kara Cowell, facilitator of the event. “We wanted to make sure that we gave those athletes a platform to share their experiences.”

Cowell is a member of the SCSU Swim & Dive team and a staff member at the Women’s Center.

During the program, she and SCSU Women’s Center Director Dr. Heather Brown addressed the sexualization and sexual harassment that women athletes face. They also called attention to the Title IX Act for its tremendous impact through women’s access to sports, an impact that’s given women strength and cultivated a generation of leaders.

The diverse panel of student-athlete speakers were chosen from each women’s sports team by SCSU Athletics Department staff.

The panelists were Molly Arenson (Swim & Dive), Erica Conrad (Cross Country), Paola Berna (Track & Field), Emma Gentry (Hockey), Gracie Parsons (Soccer), Lydia Krueger (Softball), Maria Molitor (Tennis) and Sam Zimmerman (Volleyball).

Cowell said the student-athlete from women’s basketball had a scheduling conflict.

As student-athletes, balancing classes, homework and practice can lead to burnout.

Gentry recommended talking to a sports psychologist and opening up to someone to avoid it; Arenson stressed the importance of finding something outside of sports that brings you joy; and Krueger highlighted keeping perspective and viewing the ability to play your sport as a privilege. 

When asked about what they’ve learned about leadership, Molitor said, “I’ve learned that you can lead anywhere despite your athletic ability.”

For Conrad, she said, “It’s important to speak up and advocate for yourself.”

And the biggest piece of advice they’ve learned from their mentors?

“Just have fun and enjoy the process,” said Berna.

The athletes were also asked about what advice they would give to a younger version of themselves or a little girl wanting to get involved in sports. 

“Fall in love with the things you get to do every day. Remember why you’re there,” said Conrad.

“Don’t be embarrassed for liking sports,” said Arenson.

“Don’t compare yourself to your teammates,” said Parsons.

“People are gonna tell you you can’t. Use that as motivation,” said Zimmerman.

According to Cowell, they received a lot of great feedback from the panelists and “look forward to having new voices and new faces in the future.”

The SCSU Women’s Center is already organizing more events centered around women in sports, too.

The next event hosted by them will be “All Women’s Sports, All the Time” on Feb. 21. That event will feature guest speaker Jillian Hiscock, the founder of the first bar in Minn. that shows exclusively women’s sports. 

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