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Kenyon founds women’s golf team to begin play in 2025-26

Kenyon founds women’s golf team to begin play in 2025-26

Women’s golf will be the 23rd team. | COURTESY OF CHRIS BRYANT

Kenyon will add a women’s golf team to its slate of varsity teams in 2025-26, Director of Athletics, Fitness and Recreation Jill McCartney announced on March 6. The women’s golf team will bring Kenyon to the full complement of sports offered by the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) and will be the first new varsity team since the softball program was established in 1995-96. It will also be Kenyon’s 23rd varsity team.

According to McCartney, discussions about bringing a women’s golf team to the Hill had been ongoing since before she arrived in Gambier in 2018. “There was some momentum until we hit COVID and then that shut down the conversations about women’s golf,” McCartney said in an interview with the Collegian. “It came back to the fore with our Title IX committee that was put together by [Civil Rights/Title IX Deputy Coordinator] Kevin Peterson and the Office of Civil Rights and the Title IX office.” 

McCartney explained that there are a variety of ways to ensure that Kenyon is in compliance with Title IX through its offering of varsity sports. “One way that you can show your compliance is by having the same proportion of [men and women] athletes [to the school population],” she said. “We’re not likely to be 50/50 or… matching the population percentages [43% men and 55% women in fall 2023].” 

However, there are two additional avenues for schools to demonstrate their Title IX compliance: “One is the history of adding women’s sports. And the other one is demonstrating that you’re meeting the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex,” McCartney said. Kenyon had not welcomed a new team since adding the softball program in 1995-96, so the Title IX committee saw the women’s golf team as an opportunity to demonstrate compliance.

Additionally, McCartney explained that a women’s golf team is a natural extension to Kenyon’s offering of varsity sports. “It made sense in our demographics and who we recruit from,” she said. “Many of [the high schools Kenyon recruits from] have women’s golf programs.” 

For the Kenyon men’s golf team, women’s golf was an obvious addition to Kenyon’s athletic offerings. “It was sort of a long time coming,” Will Hulsey ’26, a member of the team, wrote in a message to the Collegian. “I remember talking about it among my teammates how it was unfortunate we were one of the only schools in the NCAC without a women’s golf team, and I’m glad it’s finally going to happen.” 

Head Coach Grant Wallace has seen the potential for a women’s golf team through his time at Kenyon. “I have had numerous parents over the years tell me if we had a women’s program, they would have sent their daughter here,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian.

After the Title IX committee highlighted women’s golf as a strong point of expansion for Kenyon’s athletic offerings, the committee brought its recommendations before the Board of Trustees, which approved the addition of the women’s golf team at the Board’s winter meeting. “It is a lengthy process, but I think the College did all of its due diligence to assess what would be a good sport to add,” McCartney said.

The next step for the women’s golf team is for the Athletics Department to hire the team’s inaugural head coach. According to McCartney, Kenyon will begin its nationwide search at the end of the golf season. “Right now, it’s not a good time to try to hire a coach,” she said. “They should be busy with their season.” The Athletics Department has opened a recruiting questionnaire for any interested student-athletes, though the process will continue when the head coach is hired. “If we’re hiring a new coach that starts later in the summer, we want to have some things ready in the system for them to hit the ground running,” McCartney said.

Keri Alexander Luchowski, executive director of the NCAC, is looking forward to the arrival of the new team, though she knows that success will not come overnight. “After watching the growth of the Kenyon men’s program over recent years, I am very excited to see how the women’s program at Kenyon will develop,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. “With any new program, there is a period of growth and getting settled, but the potential for another strong women’s program is something all of our coaches are excited about.” Alexander Luchowski is particularly excited about the chance for more women to compete in the NCAC: “The NCAC is one of the first conferences founded specifically to provide women’s varsity collegiate opportunities, so anything we can do to increase opportunities to compete is outstanding.”

Sarah Molloy ’25, co-president of the Kenyon Student Athlete Advisory Committee, is also excited for new members of the women’s sports community on campus. “Adding another women’s team on campus is really special. Oftentimes, the women’s teams are smaller in numbers than the men’s teams, but still work to have a huge impact on the Kenyon community,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. “Adding another women’s team will only increase the recognition of female athletes and their accomplishments… I’m excited to have another amazing group of women to cheer on!”

Though the Kenyon community will have to wait until 2025 to support the women’s golf team, both Hulsey and Wallace believe that the future Owls will soar. “We’ve built a really good golf program here at Kenyon, and we’re only getting better,” Hulsey said. “Our existing drive to get better on the men’s side makes me confident that the women’s team will get really good really quickly.” Wallace sees the Hill as a perfect place for future members of the team to grow: “This is a place where you can be very successful, academically as well as on the golf course. There are resources here to help you thrive, just as my team has done over the years.”

Molloy is certain that Kenyon will welcome the women’s golf team with open arms. “Throughout my time at Kenyon, I have found an extraordinary support system through the female athletes here. Seeing other women’s teams take time out of their training to come cheer us on is something so special,” she said. “I feel confident that the new women’s golf team will receive the same amount of support that Kenyon Athletics as a whole strives for.”

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