Brown Bag Lunch: female strength through University athletics

Theresa Scott and Theresa Scott

Women’s Swimming Head Coach Kerri Buff is determined to build strong women through their experience with University athletics. The topic of Tuesday’s Brown Bag Lunch at the Women’s Center was ‘Building Strong, Confident, Successful Women through Athletics’. Women’s swimming placed seventh in the Mid-American Conference this year, but Buff said the challenges she faces make the job more rewarding for her and for the student athletes. ‘You may look at that [record] and say that is horrible, but we need to deal with this and come back stronger and better than ever,’ Buff said.’ ‘We may have had a harder path on the way to our final goal but I think that that builds character.’ Buff said that creating strong female athletes is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. ‘I get to work with young women as they figure out who they are,’ Buff said. ‘That is just so awesome to me.’ Michael Carriaga, a University graduate, swam with Buff for four years and said the experience shaped her as a person. ‘I think that everything you can learn as a person I have learned by being a student athlete,’ Carriaga said. Building confidence is one of the major hurdles coaches and directors face when coaching women athletes. ‘Women have not been in sports as long as men, and we have to prove that they are not second class citizens,’ Grace Mbungu, graduate assistant at the Women’s Center, said. Buff said that it is especially easy for female athletes to get down on themselves because they are not encouraged to have the same confidence as men in sports. ‘I think you need to just become comfortable in your own skin and when you face defeat you have to accept it and understand that this is going to just push you to do better,’ Buff said. ‘That is what really breeds confidence.’ Buff said that the experience women athletes have allows them to broaden themselves as people and really realize their own potential. The goal of the athletic department is to give athletes a sense of accomplishment when they graduate along with an education. ‘You are only going to be a student athlete for four years,’ Buff said. ‘But those four years will end up shaping you in the most profound of ways.’