It’s time to WISE-R up

With Mory’s closed, maybe WISER will become the “old girls club” for Yale women’s athletics.

The Yale Athletics Department’s Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Endowment and Resource is holding a forum tonight at 7 p.m. entitled “A Historical Perspective on Women’s Athletics.” WISER, an organization founded by Yale Athletics alumni, provides a network to bring together current and former female athletes and supports women’s athletics through the organization’s endowment.

Barbara Chesler, the senior associate athletics director for capital projects and the Athletics Department’s liaison with WISER, said she hopes today’s forum will be educational and will give attendees a better appreciation of Title IX and the history of women’s sports. The discussion will feature Laura Pappano ’84, a former field hockey player and co-author of “Playing with the Boys: Why Separate is Not Equal in Sports,” and Theresa Moore, president of T-Time Productions and director of “License to Thrive: Title IX at Thirty-Five.”

Along with a screening of Moore’s documentary, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the film and to ask questions. Chesler said she felt it was important for students to see the film.

“I’m not sure that women athletes today really know how Title IX impacted them,” she said.

Chesler added that the forum will also be an opportunity for students to meet two women who are distinguished members of their fields.

Events like today’s are one of the ways that WISER hopes to connect current and former Yale female athletes, whether it be for a job opportunity, advice or so they can get a better understanding of the history of women’s athletics. Ali Rotondo ’09, a field hockey player and coordinator for WISER, said that the organization is meant to be a “good old girls club,” in which current and former athletes can network and find support.

WISER also provides an endowment for women’s athletics at Yale. The organization was started in 2003 after nine Yale alumni and former athletes approached Chesler saying that they wanted to do something that would have an impact on women’s athletics teams. The alumni later met and committed a “significant amount of money,” as Chesler put it, and by 2007, WISER had raised one million dollars in gifts and pledges.

This endowment goes toward one of the original goals for the organization: providing monetary support for female Eli athletes. That could mean helping a team with travel expenses, contributing toward facilities improvements or providing financial aid individual students. Chesler said that while each team has its own sports association that can provide support, WISER is meant to be an endowment for more general use.

While the organization is still very much in its fund-raising stages, Rotondo said, it is also trying to gain more support and recognition this year through increased advertising and a newly-created student task force. Right now, the task force is working on getting the word out about WISER and its events, as well as creating more formalized positions in the organization.

Jamie Van Horne ’09, captain of the women’s basketball team and a member of the new task force, said that creating more WISER events could help the organization’s cause — and, in turn, eventually make a big difference in women’s athletics at Yale.

“I think it’s important for us female athletes to know where our opportunities came from,” she said.

Chesler said that while one of the purposes of WISER is to give students a look at the past, former athletes also benefit from getting to know current ones.

“It’s also really important for our former athletes to understand the development that has occurred in the past 25 years,” she said.

Today’s forum will take place at 7 p.m. in Linsley-Chittenden Hall, room 211.

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