Sororities and Colgate Sports
Published: Friday, October 29, 2010
Updated: Friday, October 29, 2010 14:10
Although Colgate does not have an official policy which prevents female student-athletes from participating in Greek Life, few athletes make the choice to do both. Though the culture and policies of each team differ, the decision to join Greek Life is ultimately left to each individual, challenging each athlete to consider their unique position in relation to the two commitments.
Senior Jen Marquit, a member of the tennis team and a sister of Delta Delta Delta, explained that there was no team policy preventing her from joining Greek Life. That being said, it was made clear to Marquit that even in joining a sorority tennis had to remain her priority.
"Tennis has to come first," Marquit said. "If there's a conflict, you have to choose tennis over the sorority."
Sophomore Allison Rahill, also a member of the tennis team and a new member of Gamma Phi Beta, expressed similar sentiments.
"Being a part of tennis did not affect my decision to rush or join Gamma Phi," Rahill reflected. "My coaches understood the rush process for the most part as well. Both Gamma Phi and tennis are two great commitments and I love being involved in two diverse sections of the Colgate campus."
"There are no team policies regarding Greek Life on the women's lacrosse team," senior Kate Bergstrom, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, commented. "When I was a sophomore, most of the senior class and a couple of the girls in the sophomore class were in various Greek organizations so we knew that our coach was tolerant of us joining. Our coach supports our decision to join a sorority as long as we understand that lacrosse comes first."
Junior Amanda Zranchev, a former member of the Colgate softball team and a new member of Delta Delta Delta, remembered feeling very differently when she was a sophomore.
"We really didn't talk about it," Zranchev said. "It was just a thing that would have been impossible time-wise. Other girls didn't talk about it because we had the impression that it was not allowed. It was something that wasn't said by the captains or the coaches – it was just implied that you're dedicating your time to softball."
Another member of Delta Delta Delta, junior Elspeth Monigle, who rows crew, emphasized that rowing commitments were always placed above those of Greek Life.
"Crew came first," Monigle commented. Though she was also not given specific guidelines regarding joining Greek Life, Monigle knew that crew had to always be her priority. In thinking about juggling the two, Monigle, though aware of the challenge, was positive.
"It's hard but it's doable if you want," Monigle said.
"Volleyball is our number one priority and we are extremely busy, making it hard to always get involved with other things," junior Blair Safir, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said. "If we were able to maintain our level of play as well as keep our grades up, there was no problem with us joining."
"Everyone in Kappa is very supportive and understanding of our priority as a Division I athlete above anything else," Safir added. "Kappa has many athletes that share and understand the demanding schedule we have daily. This being said, I would have to say the most difficult part of balancing the two is having to miss out on events, social gatherings, etc. because of my commitment to volleyball."
Head Coach of the women's track team Laura Nardelli emphasized that although it was not prohibited for members of her team, joining Greek Life was not a decision she recommended for most athletes.
"I don't encourage it," Coach Nardelli said. "For most it's just too much. Track is a three-season sport which runs from August to June and most just can't take on one more commitment. Most know better than to ask and keep it quiet even though it's not forbidden. Occasionally an exceptional student can balance the two."
Coach Nardelli further commented that in her 12 years at Colgate she only remembered one or two athletes who successfully balance their scholastic and athletic commitments with membership in a sorority.
"The ones who managed it were very upfront with the sorority that they couldn't miss a practice or a meet for anything to do with the sorority," Coach Nardelli said. "In joining, they're making a clear statement that they are a student first and athlete second, and that everything else comes afterwards."
A similar system exists among the field hockey team.
"There's no set policy saying that they can't," Head Coach Cathy Foto said. "When a girl wants to join we outline what we think traditionally have been the negatives – the pledging part takes a lot of time. We discuss academics and athletics as the priority."
Coach Foto went on to say that during her 21 seasons at Colgate, only a very small number of players have joined Greek life. Coach Foto's reasons for discouraging Greek life went beyond the time conflicts that come in balancing the two commitments.
"If the girls join any group their behavior is reflected on the team," Coach Foto stated. "They need to think about their image as members of that group should something happen."
Coach Foto highlighted the importance of open discussion in advising her athletes on joining Greek Life, citing both the negatives of being in a sorority and acknowledging positives like opportunities for leadership and for bettering the community.
Although each team and each athlete creates their own experience within the two commitments, one commonality emerges – that sports come first. That being said, in general, the two organizations, athletics and Greek Life, seem to exist harmoniously on campus despite the absence of any school-wide policy on controlling joint membership between the two.