Section: Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: From a Kenyon athlete: a love letter to the Ladies

To lose a female mascot that is so unique to Kenyon would be a shame for women’s athletics and would unfortunately not solve the issues being raised.


Like so many athletes, I’ve always competed for schools represented by male monikers and the women’s teams would alter them: Lady Yellow Jackets, Lady Buckeyes, the Yeowomen. But at Kenyon, for the first and only time in my life, I was on a team where the institution recognized a woman as my team’s moniker. 

I feel a deep connection to this moniker because of its uniqueness. No other school compares because there is no single image representing a Lady. Kenyon does not have gimmicky, knick-knack figurines at the Bookstore. There are no caricatures running around on the sidelines or creepy images of animals with human-like qualities. The ambiguity allows each athlete’s imagination to conjure their own reflection while maintaining the qualities that unify us: toughness, diversity, intelligence and teamwork. 

So to say that a Kenyon Lady is not fierce is an insult to past, current and future Ladies. Kenyon Ladies are the toughest people I know. To say that a Lady is outdated suggests that Kenyon’s collective idea of a Lady did not evolve beyond an archaic interpretation that we never identified with in the first place. We are not feudal figures, but rather the descendants of a long line of groundbreaking women who made it possible for us to break barriers and achieve new heights. 

I am who I am today because I am the daughter of one of those women. My mother was a member of the first team of Ladies to win an NCAA championship (Kris Caldwell ’84, Swimming). She helped transform women’s athletics so that current women’s teams could be included, recognized and supported as strong female athletes — and she did it as a Lady. To remove that name is to take away the meaning of their fight and their standards of being fierce, modern and forward-thinking women. To misunderstand that truth is not the fault of the moniker, but rather of the person who does not know what it means to be a Lady.

For that reason, it is incredibly important to continue to engage in these conversations around culture, inclusivity and identity. The opportunity to learn from each other through intellectual discourse is one reason why I love Kenyon. 

My concern is that if Kenyon’s Athletic Department and the NCAA will continue to differentiate women’s sports and men’s sports on webpages, in news stories, and in our competitions, then the gendered labeling of teams continues. It is no different than using the Lords and Ladies, so a change of the moniker would negatively impact everyone who does identify as such. 

Instead, we should bolster our efforts to make sure individuals do not feel excluded because of that. What we do on a daily basis to keep inclusion central to our relationships with teammates, coaches, alumni and professors, is far more impactful than a moniker switch. Let our conversations broaden the definition of Lords and Ladies to include more meaning, people, and tradition. If choosing an additional moniker for transgender and gender-fluid students to identify with is a solution, then let’s embrace that. We all put value in our gender identity, so whatever the solution is, let’s make sure we are adding to what is already so special to Kenyon, not taking away. 

I truly believe in Kenyon’s efforts to make our school a more conscientious and inclusive campus, but a moniker change will not resolve the issues or positively enhance the conversation. Instead, it will erase what I, and so many others, are proud to be: Kenyon Ladies.


Kellyn Caldwell ’12

Kenyon Swimmer 2008-2012


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