• Athletics
Ella Laski

In this article by Ella Laski ‘23, interviews with Anne Coby ‘21 and Ms. Justine Segear highlight the Perkiomen girls’ sports program. Readers also are called to recognize the often unfair treatment of girls’ sports in America and how this contrasts with the programs at Perkiomen. 

March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to honor it than by celebrating Perkiomen’s girls’ sports program? 

In the past, girls have strongly been discouraged from participating in sports because it was viewed as masculine and supposedly interfered with their ability to start a family. With the turn of the century and the feminist movement on the rise in our society, girls are being pushed to immerse themselves in the joy of sports. 

Regardless of the increased call to women’s athletics, girls in sports still have many disadvantages to their male counterparts, due to the fact that America’s historically patriarchal society often values the boys over the girls despite their equivalent skill and talent. Some of these disadvantages include less funding, different or worse equipment, fewer opportunities to play, and lack of strong role models. However, at Perkiomen, girls are treated in a way that encourages them to pursue sports and have access to equal facilities. In addition, our girls have the ability to find role models everywhere - be it in a coach, or in a classmate or friend. 

I spoke with senior lacrosse player Anne Coby to hear about her experience playing sports at Perkiomen and how it has shaped her as an individual. Anne’s favorite part of participating in girls’ sports at Perkiomen is the number of opportunities that are available. She specifically mentions Perkiomen’s treatment of their female athletes. “Perkiomen puts a lot of effort into celebrating our female athletes that most schools normally wouldn’t," said Anne, "such as through the PerkGsports Instagram page and setting them up for success in college sports.” 

Like many other girls, Anne’s athletic career has presented gender-related challenges. She identifies some of these major challenges as fewer resources, publicity, and appreciation as opposed to male sports. Anne has been able to overcome these career antagonists by simply running over them and putting in work to make her accomplishments heard and seen. She states, “Never underestimate the power of a female athlete.” Anne encourages girls like her to overcome these all too familiar obstacles in order to reap the benefits. 

Anne says that Perkiomen girls’ athletics have played an important role in shaping her as a young woman. She stresses the importance of the lessons she has learned from her peers and coaches, especially Mrs. Roest’s influence. Anne says, “She’s definitely one of the toughest yet caring coaches you’ll ever find. She pushes every member of the team to be her absolute best despite the obstacles we might face as a female team. Through the years of participating on her team, I can definitely say I’m a better athlete and woman through the tough love and encouragement she provided us with.”

When asked to provide advice for other girls with a desire for athletic success, Anne highlights the importance of putting in the work. She says, “From all the wonderful teammates and coaches I’ve had at Perk, I’ve learned the importance of hard work, determination, and risking everything to be your best which are all essential in finding your own success.”

Anne in a 2019 game, courtesy of Tim Miller

I also spoke with Ms. Segear, head coach of girls’ soccer and creator of the PerkGSports initiative, about how she helps young women become their best from a coaching standpoint. What she enjoys most about coaching is the opportunity to work with the athletes, and get to know them outside of the classroom. Ms. Segear also loves to see her athletes grow. She encourages her athletes to become strong young women on the principle of “Be good humans.” She stresses the importance of kindness and treating others kindly. Ms. Segear also helps her athletes grow by allowing them to have leadership opportunities. She says, “Responsibility gives expectations.”

Throughout her coaching career, Ms. Segear has experienced challenges due to the fact that she is a woman. For example, whenever someone needs to talk to the head coach, they speak to the assistant coach, Mr. Longstreth, rather than her. 

When asked what advice she has for young female athletes pursuing sports, she says to just go and do it. She encourages girls to try something new, as playing sports is not necessarily about being the best on the field but rather building relationships. Like Anne, she stresses the importance of putting in the time and effort to reap the benefits. 

Ms. Segear with the 2020 Girls Team, courtesy of Tim Miller

Overall, girls’ sports are just as important as boys’ sports and deserve to be treated as such. Perkiomen girls’ sports and their coaches encourage all of their athletes to risk becoming their best through strong athletic programs and uplifting community.