Women of Color in Sports Panel Discusses Identity in Relation to Athletic Experiences

Last Friday, Kelly Bu ’23, Abbie Cheng ’23, Sakina Cotton ’24, Yanna Dorotan ’23, Kennedy Herndon ’23, and Ananya Madduri ’23 gathered for a panel to discuss the experiences of women of color in sports. The panel discussed identity in relation to treatment and potential obstacles in the sports industry. 

Bu, Girls Soccer Co-Captain, entered the conversation with an open mind, prepared to listen and learn from her peers while also speaking about her own experiences truthfully. The support throughout the room by both faculty and students was uplifting, creating a comfortable environment for the discussion.

“I think that going into it with that mindset was really helpful to just be like, ‘I’m going to talk about my experiences as honestly and candidly as I can.’And then afterward, it was really just this great sense of appreciation and finding community in it. I think just knowing that there were a lot of people there in support and most if not all of them were women. Particularly the faculty members and coaches that we were able to see who came; they were all women and that was something that was really cool,” said Bu.

Doroton, Girls Volleyball team member, looked forward to hearing the perspectives of her fellow athletes during the panel, as all of their experiences differed. Nonetheless, the diverse backgrounds and opinions of the panelists is what created such a successful and educational conversation, especially their journeys on teams at Andover.

“Going into it, I just knew how diverse and amazing all of the panelists were, and I was excited to hear them speak. I was really excited to listen to their different experiences of being a woman, and especially being a woman of color in sports and how that relates to Andover,” said Dorotan. 

Despite Madduri’s lack of expectations going into the panel, she was surprised by the intriguing questions and overall discussion.

“I think for each one of us as panelists, it meant something very different, and I think it represents something very different in our lives because sports plays such a critical role in each one of our lives. But I think of our varsity team culture is something that’s actually a little bit different. So I found that question to be quite interesting. I didn’t really have any expectations coming in, [but after] leaving the panel, I was really grateful to be a part of it,” said Madduri, a Co-Captain for Girls Tennis. 

Bu highlighted Herndon’s decision to play college lacrosse to increase representation in a generally non-diverse sport. Herndon’s courageous decision stemmed from the lack of representation of Black women in lacrosse when she was little, and hoping that her commitment to University of California, Berkeley Lacrosse will change the perspectives of generations after her.

Bu said, “I think a lot of us just really talked about a lack of representation when it comes to seeing [women of color] in the area. I would say whether that’s just on campus or growing up and globally worldwide. I think that Kennedy made this great point where she was talking about how her decision to play lacrosse as a Black girl and a Black athlete was because she was doing it for representation, which she didn’t have growing up. And I think that the whole reason why a lot of us women of color play sports is because we didn’t have representation growing up,”

After this panel, Madduri understood the deep impact that six high school athletes can bring to a group of people, including themselves. She enjoyed the connections she made with the other panelists, while also learning more about each individual. The personal connection that the girls were able to share benefited the conversation, and the education of the others in the room.

“I learned the power of having these events and what that means to start with. Raising not [only] awareness, [but] more like broadcasting the stories behind women of color in sports that are next to you because I think being able to relate to someone, knowing someone, and their story is more powerful than someone who’s like a stranger,” Madduri said.