By: Kirk Jessome
It was an evening full of uplifting “the sisterhood” at the 9th annual Dalhousie Tigers Women in Leadership Spotlight Dinner.
Over 300 people gathered in the McInnes Room of the Student Union Building to show support for the student-athlete leaders of the Tigers women’s basketball and volleyball teams. Each year the event highlights the successes of current and former Dalhousie athletes, as well as to inspire continued growth of women in leadership positions.
Event emcees, Ashley Cain and Cassandra Bagnell, began the evening with some opening remarks, and introduced Tim Maloney, Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation to speak first.
Maloney spoke on how strongly these teams display the Dalhousie mandate of combined excellence in both academics and athletics. Maloney was also emotional in discussing how important the room full of role models is for the young women in the audience.
“At my table there are a couple of grade four and five students surrounded by seven fantastic role models, and if you were to look around the room, I’m sure you would see hundreds more. And that is so important.”
Following Maloney, Dalhousie’s Vice President of Research and Innovation, Alice Aiken began the talk of lifting the sisterhood and stressing the importance of team work and supporting each other, sharing the quote, “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
Head coaches Rick Scott (women’s volleyball) and Anna Stammberger (women’s basketball) took the time to introduce their teams, speaking on both academic and athlete accomplishments, highlighted by a bold prediction from Scott.
“After six-straight AUS conference titles, we have a bigger goal this season – we’re going after the national championship.”
Two of the athletes introduced, Victoria Haworth of women’s volleyball and Diedre Alexander of women’s basketball then talked about their time as a Tiger. Each spoke of characteristics learned from being a student-athlete, learning to both win and lose graciously, being prepared, and being a good teammate. Alexander made a great point to close the segment.
“I learned it’s not actually all about me, the things you are going to accomplish, you accomplish with your team. Just because I stop putting on the jersey one day, does not mean I’ll ever stop being a Tiger.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Marion Brown was a three-year member of the women’s basketball team from 1985-88. She received a Master of Social Work from Dalhousie before completing a PhD in social work at Memorial University. Dr. Brown has been a social worker in Nova Scotia for nearly 30 years, working in many different roles, but mostly related to community responses to youth in care. She has also been a professor in Dalhousie’s School of Social Work since 2002.
Dr. Brown began her speech by speaking about how sports celebrate a range of women.
“We can celebrate all types of women through sport, and the best part about it is that the differences in these women aren’t divisive; they allow us to lift each other up. Sports celebrate a women’s body for what it can do, rather than what it looks like.”
Brown then used her time to address all the women in the crowd, rallying them to put an emphasis on “upholding the sisterhood, by holding each other up.”
“We as women are told all the time that we need to be small, in stature, in voice, in positions, in leadership. I’m here to tell you that you need to be big in everything that you do.”
Finally, in the question and answer period, when asked about the qualities that she mentors in young social workers, Brown gave one final quote that should resonate with everyone who attended the dinner for years to come.
“Empathy. Look at the people around you and ask, what might life be like for them? A little bit of empathy would make for a kinder world.”