Viking Sports Alliance expands networks for female athletes

Miranda Smith, Campus Carrier Sports Editor

wednesday night youth group
Current female student-athletes were paired with alumni to hear their stories past Berry. The mentors discussed the strengths and skills that came from sports and how they were able to translate those qualities into their careers or future positions past Berry. Photos by Andrea Hill | Campus Carrier

On Saturday, the Vikings Sports Alliance (VSA) held a mentoring program at the Christopher Browning Pavilion at Oak Hill, where current female student-athletes were able to hear from Berry sports alumni on their stories outside of Berry.

The one-day event had students partnered with alumni to discuss the strengths and skills that can come from sports and Berry, and how to translate those qualities into life past Berry.

The female athletes with the same major or sport were paired, so there was familiarity in the field with particular connections needed for that specific major. The students also heard from three alumni who gave their stories and told how sports played a vital role in their careers, including what they were able to take away from years playing at Berry.

Assistant Director of Athletics for Sports Medicine Ginger Swann discussed the purpose of the program and its goal to prepare student athletes for the steps after graduation. With the Berry community extending outside of the Gatehouse, it has created a network of support for athletes to be guided from their Berry experiences.

“It’s a wonderful example of the practical application of the head, heart, and hands model,” Swann said. “This program is one of the many mentoring opportunities Berry offers and provides the opportunity for growth with people who are invested in Berry and genuinely care.”

I am Iron Man
Alumna Elizabeth Ragland speaks to the session about how her time at Berry shaped her future in a positive way.

Junior golfer Jorie Hodapp described VSA as a way to connect current student athletes with alumni who used their experience competing for Berry to help them reach their career goals, internships or graduate school admission.

“We recognized the need for female athletes to expand their networks and see how athletics has set them apart,” Hodapp said. “VSA comes in allowing female athletes to take ownership of attributes; facing and overcoming adversity, accountability, social development, performing under pressure, hard work, etc., and to say ‘I was part of that team, and this is why you should hire me.’”

Senior softball player Kayla Sangrey attended the event with optimism of building connections and being able to see how far qualities from sports can take her.

“It’s encouraging to see women who have come through Berry and competed at a high athletic level and now are in the world with their dream jobs,” Sangrey said. “It’s beneficial to future female student-athletes as it allows a college athlete to connect with someone who has been there, and gone through exactly what they’re going through. Knowing they made it out alive is nice to know there’s someone always in our corner.”

Sophomore lacrosse player Andrea Lindgren gave her insight on the importance of having a role model. She also said that it’s helpful to have a guide once out of Berry and described what she took away from her meeting with her mentor.

“Meeting my mentor was really beneficial,” Lindgren said. “It was great to talk to her and learn more about her time at Berry and what she’s doing now since Berry. I learned that it’s okay if you don’t get into graduate school or receive post-graduate jobs right after college, but that your time will come and everything will eventually work out.”

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