the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Cassie Goundrey '24
This is a reprint of Cassie Goundrey’s essay, read Nov. 5 at Friday Nights at Westminster featuring Jennifer Haigh. The essay won the 50 Years of Coeducation contest sponsored by the English department.
Westminster School was founded in 1888, and coeducation began in 1971. Celebrating 50 years of coeducation this year is a huge milestone. However, the impact of 83 years of single-sex education does not immediately disappear. In fact, today, women of Westminster still face challenges and setbacks in athletics.
Westminster’s de facto rival is Avon Old Farms, and rivalry games are always competitive and nerve-racking, which makes them that much more exciting to play. Except I wouldn’t know what it’s like to play a game against Avon Old Farms, because they are an all-boys school and I am a girl.
Meaning half of the athletes of Westminster never play our rivals. The female athletes at Westminster do not get to experience the same excitement and hype from the community when there’s a challenging game.
I’ve heard that the girls’ equivalent rival is Loomis Chaffee. This is great, except for the fact that Loomis has their own rival, and it’s not Westminster. So the rivalry isn’t mutual. It feels like a secondary thought that was thrown out to accommodate female athletes.
No one sees a problem with Old Farms being our de facto rivals, but I can’t help feeling like it’s a little unfair.
Fifty years later, and really nothing has changed?
Of course, tradition should be respected, so why change it?
Why erase decades of competition against Old Farms? After all, female athletes have competitive games against Loomis, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.
Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, varsity girls' field hockey had a night game against Loomis. In the big game under the lights against our “rivals,” the stakes were high, and I was so happy to have my friends come to support me in this fun, gritty game. It was exhilarating to think about all the people that would be at the game watching.
Except at 6 p.m. the bus to Six Flags Fright Fest left campus.
Our game started at 6 p.m.
If varsity boys' ice hockey or lacrosse was playing a night game against Old Farms, would the school send a bus to Six Flags at the time of the start?
I doubt it.
I really hope that the bus leaving at the same time as our game was a coincidence.
However, varsity boys' soccer had had a night game against Pomfret the week before. Their game was hyped up at announcements two weeks before it even happened, and it was a “blackout.” Mobs of Westy students were there to cheer on their classmates — there was even an ice cream truck! The energy was high, and it was a great game, a game that everyone was talking about.
When I asked my classmates if they were going to my game, many didn’t know that varsity field hockey had a night game on Saturday; they said,
“Sorry, I’m going to Fright Fest.”
What’s also annoying is that I wanted to go to Fright Fest as well. A number of my teammates also had planned to go, until the date of the trip was announced. Then the realization dawned on us all that,
There was definitely a noticeable difference in size of the crowds at the varsity boys' soccer game and varsity girls' field hockey game. But I do want to thank everyone who did come to our game; you might not have known it, but it meant a lot to my teammates and me.
This example shows maybe tradition doesn’t need to be respected. That maybe treating female athletes equally should be a priority instead of trying to accommodate female athletes. Which starts by changing our rivals.
One thing that will remain constant in life is change. Change is inevitable and necessary, especially in the modern world we live in. There is a time and a place for honoring tradition, but female athletes at Westminster deserve the same support as the male athletes, and by breaking down the foundation of sexism in our athletics, I believe we can make this come true.