AUGUSTA, GA – The Peach Belt Conference hosted its third annual Women in Athletics Seminar on Tuesday, Sept. 21, bringing together nearly 90 Division II female student-athletes to learn about professional opportunities for women in collegiate athletics. Dr. Joni Comstock, Senior Vice President of Championships for the NCAA, was the keynote speaker as student-athletes from 19 DII schools in the southeast region got the chance to interact with a wide variety of professional women in college sports.Student-athletes Sarah Hebberd (WLAX), Sara McCormack (WSOC) and Haley Carter (WSWIM) attended with Micki Thompson, Assistant Director of Athletics.
“Intercollegiate athletics will always need great leaders,” said Dr. Comstock. “And we need to encourage and include not only talented young men, but talented young women. I have the opportunity to talk to 70 or 80 young women who will be my colleagues someday and am very appreciative to the Peach Belt for holding this event.”
For the first time, the Peach Belt opened the event to other Division II schools in the southeast region. From Conference Carolinas, King College, Pfeiffer University and Mt. Olive College all sent attendees. The South Atlantic Conference had Mars Hill College, Newberry College and Wingate University. Paine College of the SIAC also had representatives at the seminar. The 90 student-athletes in attendance was the most in the three years of the event. 12 of the 13 Peach Belt Conference schools were also in attendance.
“I wanted to get as much information as I could about what it takes to make it in athletics,” said Sarah Hebberd, senior lacrosse player at Pfeiffer University. “My concerns are about self-branding and networking and sometimes just getting a foot in the door can be the hardest part. Hearing from professional women who are in the sports world and how they took those first steps is really inspiring.”
The seminar began with an interactive panel presentation giving student-athletes the chance to ask questions women in a variety of roles in college athletics. On the panel were NCAA Director of Governance and International Affairs Delise O’Meally; Emily Deitz, Director of Promotions and Licensing for the University of Georgia; Joanna Britz, Manager of Legislation and Research for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association; Francis Marion head softball coach Stacey Vallee; PBC Director of Softball Officals Betsy Kidd; Jocelyn Glenn, Director of Sports Medicine at Piedmont College and Martiza Jones, an independent consultant and former staff member at the NCAA.
“I want to talk to them about the fact that in today’s world you have lots of opportunities,” said Dr. Comstock. “ I’m actually going to be doing a bit of a recruiting job to make them understand that we need great people and that they can do so many different things in athletics. I visit four or five of these across the country each year. What I really like about this one is that it allows these young women to get to know each other and also the coaches and administrators who were nice enough to take some time from their days to bring them here.”