By the time I entered college, I knew I wanted to accomplish three tasks that I believed would ease my transition into college life: to begin working on my concentration requirements for Applied Math; to find and women’s group that would be just as supportive as the women I had grown up with in high school had been; and to find a way to continue to be involved in sports.
The first two were easily accomplished in the first week. I enrolled in AM21a, the introductory Applied Math course, and found a few women’s groups I was interested in at the Activities Fair.
The last task, though, took longer. After initially taking an interest in club soccer, I realized that my course load and other extracurricular activities that I had already signed up for would make it difficult to be as active of a member of the team as I wished. I considered intramurals, but those conflicted with other club meetings and office hours.
I couldn’t believe that sports, which had been an integral part of my life since I was four years old, would no longer be a part of my life.
That is, until Sam Lin emailed me about a week after the Activities Fair, asking if I wanted to comp the Crimson Sports board.
“This would be a good way to still be involved with sports,” I remember thinking to myself, as my schedule did not leave much time to devote to the club soccer team. After a brief, in-person meeting with Sam, I decided to join.
When I walked into my first sports staff and compers meeting, I was welcomed with a booming “Ooh! Another comper!!” from Cordelia and a softer, “Welcome to the Crimson, Katherine!” from Juliet, the co-chairs of the sports board that year.
I was comforted by the sight of a woman-led board with several other female staff members in what had a reputation as a predominantly male board. After four years at an all-girls’ high school, I valued having other women around me, especially those who knew the ropes and would be able to give advice.
The women of the sports board taught me how to write Crimson-style articles as I covered women’s and men’s crew and women’s and men’s squash for my first two years on the board. They made sure I felt comfortable adding new ideas and writing about sports that I was relatively unfamiliar with, and made sure that the board valued anything and everything I had to offer.
With their encouragement and advice, I was prepared for hard-to-reach players, the awkwardness of interviewing after a hard loss, and the excitement of covering a championship win.
Nothing, though, prepared me for what would happen my junior fall during my first season as a men’s soccer beat writer.
It was a regular weeknight, and I had taken a break from homework to start writing a preview for the team’s upcoming game. Almost as soon as I picked up my phone to begin calling players, my co-beat writer and then-chair of the board, Julio, texted me to not call the players.
At first, I thought that I had confused the schedule of who would cover which game, but Julio called to say that the season’s remaining games had been canceled due to an uncovered scouting report.
I couldn’t believe it. How could a sport that is generally inclusive seem to alienate and degrade women? How could the players, who were always so kind and loved to joke, make such a document? As a woman, how could I continue to write about the men’s team?
In deciding to stay with the beat, I knew most of these questions would never be answered. Due to coverage last year, I knew that it would be more difficult to contact the players who distrusted the Crimson, but I did not know how difficult that would be.
Not one player responded when I reached out for comments on the team’s season opener. Despite my efforts, it appeared that the sport I loved was turning its back on me and that was because I was a woman (let alone a reporter from the Crimson).
With all of the women before me graduated, and as one of two senior women on the board, I knew it was I who had to lead by example this time for the younger women on the board. I kept contacting the players, the SID, and the sports chairs until I had my interviews. Later that week, an agreement was made on the players’ responsiveness to my fellow beat writer, William, our compers, and me so that we could do our job.
Until that day, I had never taken notice of what it meant to be a female writer on the Sports Board. I had always felt comfortable with my place on the board—in the earlier years, with more women, and even in the later years with fewer because I became close with the guys in my comp class and in older years. Perhaps I took for granted the fact that I had a voice in that group, but perhaps it was the reason why I refused to be shut out by the soccer team.
After that and similar episodes, it is clear that work still needs to be done to make sports more inclusive. My time on the Sports Board has provided proof, albeit on a smaller scale, that it is possible for the industry to be inclusive and for women to play an active and meaningful role in it. As I leave Harvard and transition into the traditionally male-dominated world of finance, I will take all of the lessons learned from being a part of the Crimson and continue to be a presence and make my voice heard.