Varnes: It’s the perfect time to support Northwestern women’s sports


Daily file photo by John Riker

Northwestern field hockey players celebrate following the 2021 national championship. The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 1.

When I arrived at Northwestern from Florida, field hockey was a foreign concept to me. Just a handful of Floridian schools sponsor the sport, which is known for its northeastern roots in the U.S.

Two years later, I wouldn’t call myself a field hockey expert. But I’ve grown to love spending time at Lakeside Field, watching the Wildcats dart down the field, deliver powerful shots and make magic happen.

Field hockey isn’t the only program that has drawn me in during my time in Evanston. I’ve covered games at Welsh-Ryan Arena, Lakeside Field and Martin Stadium for The Daily. And most often, I’m making these treks to cover women’s sporting events. 

Initially, it was because of familiarity. I played lacrosse and ran cross country in high school, so those seemed like natural fits to write about. Since then, I’ve gone on to cover women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s golf and softball. Each time, I learn something new, and my appreciation for college sports grows.

All of these programs — in addition to the several women’s teams I didn’t mention — share one common trait: historical success. Lacrosse has won seven national championships. Softball has made the trip to six Women’s College World Series. After several successful seasons, field hockey finally got its first national title last fall. Numerous other programs have wins in the Big Ten and on the national level under their belt.

This fall is no different. Currently, there are two ranked women’s teams on campus: field hockey at No. 1 and women’s soccer at No. 9. As an added bonus, volleyball is receiving votes in the national poll, and cross country ranks No. 4 in the Midwest region.

Yes, it’s generally more enjoyable to write about winning teams than losing teams. But it’s also fun to cover these programs because of their exciting storylines, how gifted the student-athletes are and how much I learn every time I follow along from the press box — or the stands. 

There is no better time to start supporting women’s sports at NU than this quarter. With so many programs in the swing of their seasons, there’s practically always a game going on. This weekend in Evanston, field hockey opens Big Ten play against Iowa on Friday and takes on Richmond on Sunday. If you want to tune in to away games, women’s soccer is at Minnesota on Sunday and volleyball is taking on Wisconsin and Illinois on Friday and Saturday, respectively. 

If you’ve got other plans this weekend, I still encourage you to keep up with NU women’s sports over the coming months. Whether you’re watching field hockey’s Bente Baekers notch seemingly impossible goals at Lakeside Field or volleyball’s Temi Thomas-Ailara tally powerful kills at Welsh-Ryan Arena, you’ll get a front row seat to some of the nation’s most electric players and teams. 

As we celebrate 50 Years of Title IX in 2022, it’s only fitting to uplift NU’s talented women student-athletes. NU has done a fantastic job investing in women’s sports, and now it’s our turn to take advantage of the world-class athletics we have on our campus.

So, go to a game, follow along on Twitter or read The Daily’s stories about NU’s women’s sports. We’ll be at games, providing minute-to-minute, daily coverage. You should be there, too. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @charvarnes11

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