As a varsity swimmer for the past three years, I have been a member of the Women’s Athletic Association (WAA), a group made up of all varsity female athletes at UChicago. WAA’s goal is to unite UChicago athletes while also promoting varsity athletic events to the general student body. WAA organizes several events per year, including a staff appreciation week for the employees of athletic facilities, a student-athlete day for all students on campus to celebrate athletics, and a networking night with alumni that were varsity athletes as undergrads. This year, we also hosted the first ever Athlete Prom!
The largest event that WAA hosts is an annual fundraiser, Slam Dunk for Special Olympics. The Special Olympics has a partnership with the NCAA Division III, and the Women’s Athletic Association has created a connection with Special Olympics teams around Chicago. We volunteer with local Special Olympics teams and host fundraisers to help pay for their equipment. The Slam Dunk event takes place at a home basketball game, and includes activities such as raffles and a dance show. We invite local Special Olympics athletes to attend, and my favorite part of the event is that we get to watch the game together. This year, the Special Olympics athletes played a game of basketball with members of the UChicago Women’s basketball team during halftime!
Many Special Olympics competitions take place on UChicago’s campus, and members of WAA love to volunteer at events as scorekeepers or referees. After Slam Dunk is over, we visit schools around Chicago that have Special Olympics teams to play games with them and donate the money we raised to them. Each UChicago varsity team also hosts practices with the Special Olympics athletes, where we work together to learn new drills and play games. I am so glad that the Women’s Athletic Association allows me to connect with athletes from UChicago and the surrounding community, and working with the Special Olympics athletes has been one of the most rewarding parts of my athletic career at UChicago.