No More ‘Lady Tritons’ for Girls Sports

Carly Noble, Staff Writer, Journalism

Notre Dame Academy will no longer be referring to their female athletes as “Lady Tritons.”

A concerned female professional brought the gender reference to the attention of NDA’s Vice President of Advancement and Athletic Director, Jeanne Stangel.

The topic of gender equity was a familiar one to the athletic director.

“Equal opportunities for both men and women are important,” said Stangel. “I know the feeling because I played college basketball way back.”

Stangel, who worked at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for 15 years, was hired there as a “woman in leadership,” also known as the Senior Women’s Administrator.

The Title IX Act passed in 1972 required gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that received federal funding, including athletics.

At UW-GB Stangel worked to follow Title IX, improving gender equity plans, participation plans and student athlete enhancements.

“You should provide opportunities for anyone with interest in a sport,” Stangel said.

In her time working at UW-GB, the women’s sports teams were known as “the Lady Phoenix.”

“Why are we putting the word Lady in front of Phoenix?” someone challenged her.  That same question, said Stangel, has been raised here: “Why is it Lady Tritons and not just Tritons?”

Stangel discussed the topic with President Kevin Shaw and the NDA Leadership Team, who decided to drop the word “Lady” from the marketing plan for female sports.

“Why do we bring that title into the world of sports? Is it really necessary to say their genders?” Strangel asked.

The Leadership Team agreed that the term “Lady” could be portrayed as degrading or sexist to women’s sports.

According to survey experts with USA Weekend, studies show that one in two girls play high school sports and more than a dozen own professional sports teams.

Women are just as capable as men when it comes to most things, Stangel stated.

The decision to drop “Lady Tritons” has led to a difference of opinions on the central question: “Do women’s sports like being separated from men’s sports or united as one school name?”

Notre Dame girls basketball player Lizzie Opichka shared how the term “Lady Tritons” has impacted her.

“Lady Tritons was a good name to have since starting basketball in fourth grade. Our program was known as Future Lady Tritons, but I don’t think it will affect us now. We will play the same way without it,” Opichka said.

At this point, it has become a marketing and branding issue for Notre Dame, who just needs to get the word out on this new change, Stangel said.

“The bigger picture of what we are trying to do is have student athletes develop as a whole with team camaraderie skills that they can use in classrooms and take with them beyond,” she  said.