National Girls & Women in Sports Day Pacific Lutheran University student-athletes and coaches talk about the positive influence of sports in their lives

February 6 marks the 33rd annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day, a national observance celebrating the extraordinary achievements of women and girls in sports. Pacific Lutheran University has been at the forefront of women's athletics with seven of the Lutes' 11 national championships coming from women's athletic teams. From hoisting NAIA national titles in softball, cross country, and soccer in 1988 to winning the NCAA Division III national title in softball in 2012, the Lutes have provided opportunity, access, and success to countless women over the years.

Lute student-athletes and coaches were asked about the positive impact that sports have had on their lives.

"The biggest impact sports has had on my life would be the lessons that soccer has taught me. To work as a team, to play for something bigger than yourself, to truly dig deep and find what you are capable of, and to love something because you simply love to play."

-women's soccer student-athlete Maddie Landreth

"Sports have given me a friend base like no other, my teammates truly are the greatest support system a woman could ask for. Furthermore, sports have taught me just how tough I am. 5 a.m. practices six days a week for four months straight... that’s a grind, it’s tough. But I have successfully completed this regime as have my teammates. I’ve experienced sports on a national stage and learned just how big the world is. Plus, my sports have allowed me to experience other countries in a unique way. While studying in Oxford, England, I joined the Oxford rowing team and was able to compete across the pond. I learned new techniques, styles and made a lot of cool friends along the way.”

-women's rowing student-athlete Kylee Dickinson

“It has really helped me become more confident in myself. It is a constant challenge I get to pursue to be my best self. It has introduced me to some of my greatest friends and supporters.”

-volleyball student-athlete Savanna Service

“Being an athlete has taught me how to be a leader and how to be a team player. It has helped me to be better organized and communicate more effectively. One of the biggest things sports has shown me is that it is completely acceptable to be strong and powerful and that doing so will not take away from my femininity.”

-women’s track & field student-athlete, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Member, and team captain Andraya Conger

“From a lifelong perspective, sports have taught me the value of relationships and what it takes to foster relationships with all types of people. I competed in both individual and team sports and found the same principles toward success apply in both. Commitment, hard work, showing up, and being accountable to the team and my coaches were the most important principles to team success. I’m so blessed to coach alongside Cindy VanHulle, PLU Alumna and current assistant softball coach, who as a young athlete was my biggest role model. She modeled every single thing that was important to our team's success without failure every day. Her impact on me as a young athlete is why I coach today. To work alongside Cindy at PLU, coaching a special group of athletes is a dream come true.”

-Head Softball Coach Traci Barrett

"Sports have changed my mentality and my mindset on how I see challenges and competition. What used to scare me now excites me and makes me want to do better.”

-women’s track & field student-athlete and team captain Vakeaemanu Hunkin

“The biggest impact that sports have had on my life was giving me an opportunity to make lifelong friends and travel the world. Women's sports and sports in general have been part of my life from as early as elementary school. From playing sports at a young age, it created a competitive attitude in me making me a better athlete and in general a hard working person. Over the years, it has given me many friendships and many accomplishments and I hope to keep that ball rolling throughout my years here at PLU.”

-women’s rowing student-athlete Kale’a Paiva

“Sports have always been my stress reliever. Whether I’m stressed about school or other reasons, every time I step onto the court, my stress suddenly dissipates.”

-women’s tennis student-athlete Taylor Stokes

"The biggest impact sports have had one my life is learning different leadership skills on the court that translate to my experiences off the court."

-women's basketball student-athlete and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member Lauren Furu

"Sports taught me how to work hard and continuously push towards being the best version of myself. To see obstacles as challenges and to work with others to find solutions."

-head women's basketball coach Jennifer Childress

“Sports has had a big impact on my life growing up. Sports taught me how to persevere when things got hard and to never give up. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people and it gave me an escape from everyday life because on the court I only had to think about practice.”

-volleyball student-athlete McKenzie Pfeiffer

“Sports taught me the ability to work well with a team and creating a strong work ethic.”

-women’s swimming student-athlete and team captain Ingrid Straume

“Sports have built a community that allows me to work hard, be myself, and build friendships.”

-women’s tennis student-athlete and team captain Kristi Floyd

“Sports have taught me the importance of time management, leadership, team work, conflict resolution, and accepting and giving feedback. These have become very useful for me in my professional development. Sports have also taught me stress management, goal setting, and critical reflection which have helped me grow holistically as a person.”

-women’s soccer and track & field student-athlete Kelsey Hathaway

“Playing sports has allowed me to be a part of something bigger than myself. Being on a team, each individual has a job in order for the team to be successful.”

-softball student-athlete and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member Marley Dyer

“The biggest impact sports have had on my life is the relationships I've made with people who I would've never met otherwise. Competition is fun, but it's even better when you share a connection with those you're competing with.”

-volleyball student-athlete Kristin Moniz

"Sports has taught me discipline, how to be active and healthy, how to work well with a team, perseverance, and working through difficult times. I’m a better and healthier person because of sports."

-women's rowing student-athlete Emily Toycen

"Sports have taught me the importance of dedication, determination, discipline, sacrifice, hard work and service to myself as well as my community."

-women's rowing student-athlete and member of the women's club wrestling program Lena Flanagan

“Sports have given me an avenue to grow in my confidence and be secure with myself. I have been able to meet other confident women in sports who I consider some of my best friends and role models.”

-women’s soccer student-athlete, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Member, and team captain Sarah Burns

“Softball has taught me both mental and physical toughness as well as the importance of team work. This game happens fast, so you have to be ready for any situation on the field and you have to trust that your teammates have your back. Playing softball has definitely helped me have a better approach to life when faced with challenges. It has also given me friends that I can always count on, which I am forever grateful for.”

-softball student-athlete Becca Sorensen

"Sports have allowed me to make new friends and challenge myself. Whether we win or lose as a team, I enjoy improving together. As one who was/is soft-spoken and doubtful, being a team player has allowed me to increase my self-confidence, determination, and responsibility."

-women's rowing student-athlete Allysen Garcia

"Sports have allowed me to work with people that I probably would have never met otherwise. Sports have taught me many things such as leadership skills, the importance of teamwork, and how to communicate effectively and efficiently."

-women's rowing student-athlete Kaylyn Rosmaryn

"Sports have ultimately made me a more well-rounded person- they have taught me how to manage my time, work hard in every aspect of my life & have compassion for the people around me. I have gained lifelong skills through my participation in athletics that go beyond just being physically fit."

-women's rowing student-athlete, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member, and team captain Alex Moore

“The biggest impact sports has had on my life is how so many life long relationships have been fostered through sports. On top of that, I believe sports have brought out characteristics in me that have shaped me into who I am today, for example work ethic and perseverance.”

-women’s soccer student-athlete Kelly Brown

“It's made my life what it is. It's made a stronger person, made me so many friends, allowed me to travel, and have an amazing college experience with other amazing women.”

-women’s rowing student-athlete Siobhan Warmer

"Sports have allowed me to have mental toughness in every aspect of my life. There are times when school work can seem almost impossible to complete and going to work on a Monday morning is the last thing you want to do. When I'm struggling with motivation, I think about rowing. I just take everything day by day, like I take everything practice by practice. It lets you celebrate the small accomplishments as well."

-women's rowing student-athlete Annika Ivanoff

Created By
Mark Albanese


Bailey Plumb McKenna Morin John Froschauer

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