By Noah Peterson and Amanda Fraser
To kick off its new Master of Arts in Sport Leadership degree and celebrate National Girl and Women in Sports Day, Rochester University brought in two female sport leaders to share their experiences. Over 40 students and staff gathered in the RU Auditorium to listen to Dana Schmitt, president of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, and Tai Sharpley, RU’s assistant athletic director and senior women’s administrator.
Both women talked about the struggles women have had to endure to build a future where female athletes are given the same opportunity as male athletes.
Sharpley, a former Division 1 softball player, discussed the struggle that women go through to gain the same equality in sports as men. “We have to prove ourselves over and over again,” she said. “As a female athlete, we have to do this constantly with our peers, coaches, other athletes and ourselves. But on the flip side, all the hard work and commitment that others before us have taken a stride for has set us up with success.”
Sharpley has many years of experience as a high school and intercollegiate coach and athletic administrator. In 2007, Sharpley earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Norfolk State University where she played softball.
Dana Schmitt is the first woman in the United States to lead a men’s professional sports league. She has over 20 years of experience working as an executive and attorney in the sports industry and helps oversee league, ballpark and team operations for the United Shore Professional Baseball League. She talked about her experiences working with her team to get Jimmy John Field built in Utica and how she wants to help young people in the sports industry.
WHY IT MATTERS
National Girl and Women Sports Day acknowledges the achievements of coaches and athletes, and acknowledges the role of sports to help unlock the boundless potential of women. It began in 1987 as a special day in our nation’s capital to recognize women’s sports. National Girls and Women in Sports Day took place on Feb. 1.
Gage Harris, a Junior financial planning major, attended the event to learn more about the sports industry.
Harris said, “It was inspiring to hear two women tell their stories about how they were involved in sports that they loved, and how they did not shy away from those roles that they adapted to. The biggest takeaway is definitely if it is an industry you want to work in either if you are playing or want to be on the administrative side, what they both stressed was connections.”
Dave Hutson, chair of the Department of Sport Studies, coordinated the event and said he appreciated how Sharpley and Schmitt illustrated the paths their careers have taken in the sport industry. “Both of them had different paths they took to get to where they are today. Whenever people talk to people who work in the sports industry, it’s amazing to find the different paths people take.”