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University of Guelph Celebrates Reaching $2.5 Million Milestone in She’s Got Game Initiative




GUELPH, Ont., February 26, 2024 – She’s Got Game, an initiative at the University of Guelph to advance gender equity and women in sport, has hit an important milestone, reaching its entire $2.5 million fundraising goal.

 

Launched in 2018, the She’s Got Game initiative was created to ensure equal access for women to athletic scholarships, development opportunities and recognition. It was the first and largest campaign of its kind in Canada and is built on three pillars of fundraising, policy, and engagement.

 

In six years, the initiative has raised a total of $2,520,613 and supported 550 student-athletes with She’s Got Game scholarships. Moreover, the Athletics Department has informed policy changes, raised awareness, and engaged the broader community with new events and programs. 

 

In 2018, then-U of G provost Dr. Charlotte Yates committed to providing $225,000 over three years to the initiative. Most recently, Dr. Gwen Chapmen, current provost and vice-president (academic), has renewed a $50,000 contribution for each of the next five years for an additional $250,000.

 




"The hard work and generosity of so many has made this incredible achievement possible," said Dr. Charlotte Yates, U of G president and vice-chancellor. "By investing in our Gryphons, we contribute to our goals of transforming university sport through equity and inclusion. Given our rich history of powerful women who have made a difference both on and off the field, we deeply appreciate the importance of this initiative."

 

Beyond fundraising, the Athletics Department has instituted policy changes around equal pay, supported the hiring of two new women’s coaches and now boasts representation of women on every single coaching staff of the University’s women’s teams.  

 

“We are thrilled to reach this milestone, a goal that we set out six years ago to achieve when the program was little more than a vision,” says Scott McRoberts, U of G Director of Athletics.

 

“As we celebrate this first chapter in what will be a long history of She’s Got Game, we use this fundraising milestone as a landmark to celebrate how far we have come and the changes we have implemented while understanding there is still more work to be done.”

 

In the last six years, the department has supported the path to success for many women’s coaches.

 

-        Katie Mora: Working with the Guelph Girls Hockey (GGHA) and recent assistant coach of FISU gold medal-winning women’s hockey team. Now in the role of interim women’s hockey head coach.

-        Megan Reid: Hired as a collaboration with the Ontario Coaching Association, which has now led to a full-time position as head coach of the women’s varsity basketball team.

 

-        Rachel Flanagan: Currently on a one-year leave as head coach of the women’s hockey team to pursue a career in the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) as an assistant coach in Toronto. Recently worked as an assistant coach with the Canadian national women’s team for a pair of games against the U.S. in a rivalry series.

 

Supporters have also answered the call to increase support for women student-athletes; by establishing over 51 named scholarships, totalling 1,370 unique donors.

 

“We cannot overstate our gratitude to all of the donors who stepped forward to support this initiative,” says McRoberts. “That so many have stepped forward and helped us reach this milestone in six years is a powerful statement of support for our women’s programs and student-athletes.”




Valerie Lamenta, a former women’s hockey student-athlete and She’s Got Game scholarship recipient expressed her gratitude for the support she received.

 

“Having a scholarship allowed me to be my best student-athlete self. I could be fully dedicated to my studies and my sport, while knowing that I had the support of my university. I could get involved in various initiatives, participate in development programs and mentor other student athletes. And this was largely all possible, because I did not have to limit myself due to financial concerns and hurdles.”

 

Lamenta achieved a long list of accomplishments in her five years with the Gryphon women’s hockey program, including a nod as a U SPORTS Player of the Year in 2016, OUA Goaltender of the Year in 2019 and helped lead the team to three OUA Championship titles and the programs first ever national championship in program history in 2019.

 

The now U of G alumni is currently working as an engineer in her hometown of Montreal, QC and commented on her pride of being a Gryphon when the She’s Got Game initiative was announced while she was a student in 2018.

 

“The moment I came to Guelph, I immediately felt like I was a part of the community. And when the She's Got Game initiative was announced, I felt like the entire community was supporting and celebrating all its amazing women, whether they were student athletes, coaches, Jr. Gryphons, trainers, or support staff,” says Lamenta.

 

 “I think this initiative is shining a well-deserved light on women's athletics and everyone stands to benefit from it.”

 

The milestone achievement was celebrated Saturday, Feb. 24 at the annual She’s Got Game Gala with over 200 supporters in attendance. Keynote speaker Jackie Boyle, an RBC Olympian and Team Canada cyclist, spoke to the crowd about her journey as a former U SPORTS student-athlete turned Olympic hopeful.

 

The impact of She’s Got Game can also be seen through new opportunities and events inspired by the initiative that include but are not limited to:

Gryphon Domino’s Pizza Day

o   On Pizza Day, $5 from every large pizza sold goes back to support She’s Got Game. The event has evolved to a special day on the calendar that the entire Gryphon community gets behind and looks forward to. This past year we celebrated our sixth annual Gryphon Pizza Day, and over the six years it has raised a total of $28,600.

SGG Gryphon Camp

o   This weeklong summer camp is designed to provide encouragement and support to campers who have big dreams and goals in sport. It is run by a team of experienced women’s varsity sport coaches and athletes. Participants build wellness and leadership skills that will help them navigate life as they face ongoing challenges and obstacles.

Guelph Soccer – She Can Coach

o   The She Can Coach program is a federal government-funded project with the goal of ensuring more women and girls are able to enjoy the benefits of soccer by addressing the current challenges that they face related to participation. A three- year pilot project funded by Sport Canada is currently in its third year. This program strives to support and advance gender equality in sport by breaking down the barriers of entry for women to coach, with the hope that will increase registration and help to balance the gender gap.

Guelph Soccer – She’s Got Game Women's League

o   This Guelph Soccer league is geared toward women and provides childcare services to participants to limit barriers. In 2023 they saw a participation increase of 48% compared to 2022. Waitlists have been developed for this league and as a result the Guelph Soccer Club is looking to expand the She’s Got Game league in the summer of 2024.

Guelph Girls Hockey Association

o   The Guelph Girls Hockey Association (GGHA) uses a weekly skill development program they call She’s Got Game night at the rink where they receive coaching from Gryphon coach Katie Mora and figure skating former coach Janet Gibson. All GGHA rep players wear a She’s Got Game patch on their jerseys and warm-ups to demonstrate their commitment to the initiative. Gryphon varsity women’s hockey player Chihiro Suzuki received a Hockey Canada grant this year to coach the Guelph U18AA women’s team. Her players created their own ‘Chi Got Game’ shirts to wear when they attend Gryphon games to cheer on their coach.

She’s Got Game Basketball & Hockey Day

o   Each year the Department of Athletics hosts a She’s Got Game basketball and hockey game. The event is showcased by an all-women’s GryphVision broadcast crew made up of former alumni. It also includes information booths on She’s Got game, and She’s Got Game apparel as prizes and giveaways.

McRoberts said the Department of Athletics will continue to build on the solid foundation of the initiative from the last six years and that the journey is not over.

 

Through She’s Got Game, he said the department hopes, “to continue to fundraise for women’s sports and attract the best and brightest student-athletes and foster gender equity as we develop world class athletes, scholars and citizens. Our hope is to grow She’s Got Game beyond this campus and to continue to find ways to expand and engage our Junior Gryphons.” 

 

If interested in donating, please contact: Chris Moulton at cmoulton@uoguelph.ca or donate online at www.shesgotgame.ca


 

 

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