The 8th Annual Sports and Social Justice Symposium at Springfield College took place on Friday, April 14, 2023 with Cathie Schweitzer, the First Female Athletic Director at Springfield College, the keynote conversation in theMarsh Memorial Chapel.
Schweitzer was joined by moderator Marty Dobrow, professor of Communications. In this conversation, Schweitzer covered topics such as gender equity, the challenges and opportunities of being “a first,” and the new frontiers for women’s sports.
Schweitzer served as associate athletic director for four years before serving as AD from 2000-2015. Under Schweitzer’s direction, the Pride captured 59 conference championships, had 24 individual national champions, and eight team national champions. Thanks to the on-field success, Springfield College finished in the top 25 of the Learfield Directors’ Cup five times during her tenure. In the spirit of the Humanics philosophy, she instilled a commitment to giving back to the community as Springfield College Athletics continually received the Jostens/National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators Community Service Award.
Tom Waddell ’59 Leveling the Playing Field Award
In addition, Springfield College student-athletes Lily Gould and Arielle Johnson were recognized with the Tom Waddell Leveling the Playing Field Award. Waddell ’59 is a Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame member who devoted his life to issues of social justice. This annual award goes to a student-athlete or athletes who have worked diligently to build a fairer and more just world.
This event was presented by the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement and supported by the Dr. Tom Waddell ’59 Fund.
History of Sports and Social Justice Symposium
In 2015, the Sports and Social Justice Symposium was initiated after Springfield College celebrated “Tom Waddell Day,” festivities that paid homage to Waddell’s life and commitment to Humanics and diversity.
As part of the celebration in 2015, there was a film tribute featuring Waddell’s famous interview on ABC’s 20/20, a panel discussion led by his contemporaries, and the dedication of a plaque commemorating Waddell’s humanitarian contributions, including the creation of the Gay Games. Delivering the keynote address was Springfield College graduate Rob Kearney ’13, G’15, a strongman champion and the first openly gay man to actively compete in his sport at the international level.
Joining Kearney for the festivities were Jeffry Pike, a member of the Federation of the Gay Games, Waddell classmates from the Class of 1959 Jack Savoia, Tom Johnson, Owen Houghton, Springfield College faculty members Mimi Murray’61, G’67, Rick Paar, and the founder of the Springfield College Tom Waddell Fund Phyllis Plotnick.
Waddell, who passed away in 1987, was an outstanding athlete, excelling in track and field, gymnastics, and football as a student at the College. Waddell is best known as the founder of the Gay Games, started in 1982 and held every four years since. The Gay Games welcomes more than 8,000 athletes—regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender identity, religion, sex, ethnic origin, athletic ability, or political beliefs—from 47 countries to compete in an inclusive environment.
Waddell represented the United States in the decathlon in the 1968 summer Olympics, where he placed sixth. He also was an infectious disease specialist and provided medical service for many years in Africa, Asia, and Saudi Arabia, and served in the U.S. Army. He was inducted into the Springfield College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
Supported by the Dr. Tom Waddell ’59 Fund. For more information on the fund, or to make a gift, visit springfield.edu/giving.