A Return to Sports at Spelman College?
Photo by: Mahsati Moorhead,
By: Zoria T. McClerklin and Rachel Patrick
Following the denial of a proposed lacrosse club to be a registered student organization (RSO) in the Spring of 2022, the rejection became a catalyst for the Jaguars Lacrosse Club.
Sophomore Olivia Robinson’s mobilization and continuous efforts to play the sport she loves is a surprise to no one. One of the essential parts of the Spelman College “experience” is the will of the students to express their thoughts and feelings about their institution and what changes need to be enacted.
“I gathered a group of about 15 of us, and we applied to be an official club at Spelman,” Robinson said. “However, we were ultimately denied by the Wellness Center due to insurance and liability issues.”
In 2013, Spelman terminated intercollegiate athletics to focus on a campus-wide wellness initiative that emphasized fitness for everyone during Beverly Daniel Tatum’s presidency at Spelman. Right now, women colleges are witnessing a surge in the students’ desire to participate in competitive team sports.
Robinson began using her social media platforms to bring awareness to the lack of team sports with the hashtag “#bringsportsbacktospelman.” She highlighted the importance of sports while using statistics to garner overwhelming interest from other Spelmanites (Nickname for Women of Spelman).
Using the website, GoFundMe, Jaguar Lacrosse Club raised 5,500 dollars to assist with equipment and travel costs to enter the Atlanta Lacrosse League, which is unaffiliated with Spelman. The team is hugely grateful for the support of AUC alums, current students, and others.
When Spelman student Nia Hipps C’2026 saw the GoFundMe, she immediately reached out to Robinson, among others, with interest in joining after playing the sport in high school.
“This really shows what unity and sisterhood looks like,” goalkeeper Laila Christian said.
When asked what advice she would give to students interested in starting a club that does not already exist, Kaitlin Britton-Wheeler C’2025 said, “the first step of a desire to start something you don’t already see at Spelman is to forget the preconceived notion that nobody is going to be what you are interested in. Before you know it, one person with an idea can turn into a group chat with 40 people wanting to be a part of your vision.”
Robinson claims she did not see herself as a leader before starting the club. She realized that she was one once she started setting up practices, researching a league to join and inspiring others to join her cause.
There were times when Robinson considered halting her attempts to bring a team to fruition. She felt discouraged after a combination of peers and faculty informed her that sports at Spelman were not possible in her freshman year. Her passion for lacrosse and support from peers compelled her to keep going.
“If Liv [Robinson] had not repeatedly asked me if I registered or what times I was able to practice, I would not have done it,” Wheeler said.
Since the Jaguars Lacrosse Club, Spelman students received a survey from Spelman’s Student Government Association (SGA) about interest in intramural sports.
“We take it seriously, we are passionate about it, we want to start a movement to bring back sports in general,” said Wheeler.
While Robinson believes the revival of intramural sports is long overdue, she is primarily ecstatic that people will be able to find joy in participating in an activity they love and should not have to give up.
Robinson hopes to see lacrosse, in particular, become one of the intramural sports offered at Spelman. While she is honored and proud to play the role of captain and coach of the team, she would also love to enjoy just being a player as she looks ahead to her junior and senior years.
“Once I get into something, I really give it my all, but it’s hard when we don’t have the field space,” Wheeler said. “So our biggest challenge is lacking resources so we can stay consistent and play at the level we’re capable of.”
“Receiving the school’s invitation and acknowledgment for the work we have been doing felt affirming when we were featured on the talk show First Take,” said Robinson.
Jaguars Lacrosse members hoped the moment exposed the club to a broader audience beyond the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC).
The Jaguars Lacrosse Club would appreciate continued support as they prepare for the spring season beginning on Mar 12. New members are always welcome. Games take place Sunday evenings at Hammond Park in Sandy Springs, Ga.
Copy & Edited by Marlon “MJ” Scott & Kevin Williams