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Junior Emma Loving hopes the return of the club will create a sense of mentorship for Penn women athletes across all sports. 

Credit: Ananya Chandra

A new semester brings new opportunities for Penn’s female athletes.

Penn is welcoming one of its former clubs back onto campus as senior tennis players Marta Kowalska and OJ Singh, who is also a Daily Pennsylvanian sports associate, are reinvigorating the Penn Women’s Athletic Association with the help of their executive board.

The club, which was originally established in 1921, aims primarily to connect Penn’s female athletes on and off campus to networking opportunities based on the athletes' career goals. However, the W.A.A. lost its place on campus in the 90s. Now, over 20 years later, it's back. 

At the moment, Penn’s teams work to put student athletes in touch with alumni in order to build a network for mentorship. The leaders of the W.A.A. are striving to build a wider alumni base among athletes by creating a larger space for all female athletes, regardless of which sport they play.

“We also want to create mentorship programs across sports, and we’d match people almost like lineages in greek life, where you’re matched with people who are in your academic specialty,” junior Emma Loving said. 

Loving plays for Penn women's soccer and is one of the club’s vice presidents, overseeing internal affairs, finance, and alumni relations.

Another athletics-based mentorship program is Young Quakers, in which leaders on Penn athletics teams visit local elementary and middle schools and interact with students inside and outside of the classroom.

The W.A.A. also has a philanthropic branch, which has already begun fundraising. This past Wednesday night, members of the association hosted a bake sale at Smokey Joe’s, a local bar and restaurant near Penn's campus. 

The proceeds went to Women Organized Against Rape, a Philadelphia non-profit organization whose mission is to "eliminate all forms of sexualized violence through specialized treatment services, comprehensive prevention education programs, and advocacy for the rights of victims of sexual assault," according to its website. 

“The philanthropy team has really big aspirations. I know we are looking to partner with different organizations, maybe even Penn Medical, as well as potentially having faculty be involved," junior Carolyn Xie said. "We are also looking to and out to the greater Philadelphia community and try to make a difference there.”

Xie is a member of Penn tennis and a part of the W.A.A. alumni relations board.

In the short term, the club also plans to participate in the Valentine’s Day festivities by sending out Valentine’s Day grams in order to raise awareness about the association's existence. Per the club's model, more participation means a stronger organization. 

“One of our main goals is to create events that help integrate the teams together and help people become closer,” Loving said.

The club is also looking to host networking events and resume workshops specifically for Penn’s female athletes, as it hopes to connect with more alumni in the coming months.

“We reach out to former Penn women athletes and try and connect them [with our students] and build a platform for networking… and to empower women to find their best selves both on the court and in the classroom, in professional and personal settings,” said Xie.

As the association continues to grow, even more opportunities will arise for Penn's female student athletes.

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