Lauren Perdue brings home the gold to UVa!

February 01, 2013

National Girls and Women in Sports Day Celebrates our Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer

February always brings a joyous occasion to the University of Virginia. The University’s Women’s Center and Department of Athletics collaborate in a celebration of the National Girls and Women in Sports Day.  Often the media focuses on problems that occur in sports. On February 3rd, however, eyes were on the accomplishments of outstanding women in athletics, thanks to a collaboration of the Women’s Center and Athletics Department that has been a positive partnership for 18 years.

Jane Miller, Senior Associate Director of Athletics, comments on the event and relationship, saying, “It is a wonderful event we at Athletics enjoy.  The collaboration with the Women’s Center and the celebration is amazing.  So many positive things and accomplishments get overlooked and don’t get the attention they deserve.  We are proud to be a part of this celebration.”

The National Association for Girls and Women in Sports created this day in remembrance of a remarkable woman, Flo Hyman.  Sadly, Hyman died at an early age, but her passion for equality in athletics inspired great change.  After her untimely death, many prominent female athletes marched on the Capitol to demand that equality for women in athletics receive the attention it deserved.  A year later an award was created in Hyman’s honor by the Women’s Sports Foundation and has since been awarded to the most prominent names in women’s athletics, such as WNBA star Lisa Leslie, Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, and champion tennis player Martina Navratilova.  Many credit Flo Hyman’s great spirit and belief in equality for women as an early and major force behind Title IX.
A legacy of passion and change was created in the face of tragedy. National Girls and Women in Sports Day is an annual reminder of how far we have triumphed and the opportunities for change that still present themselves today.

This past year a student at the University of Virginia was able to achieve the highest level of excellence by receiving a gold medal at the London Summer Olympics. Lauren Perdue, a fourth-year swimmer for the Wahoos, added an Olympic gold medal to her many laurels.

Perdue was born in Charlottesville and grew up in North Carolina. She returned to Charlottesville when she attended U.Va. She competed on the swimming team throughout her years at U.Va., winning 17 ACC championships and eight All-American honors. Perdue was named Swimmer of the Year in both 2010 and 2011. In the London Olympics, she was part of the gold-medal winning USA freestyle relay team.

Women’s Center director Sharon Davie smiles when she talks about celebrating Perdue’s accomplishments. “This joyful event brings to the forefront women’s achievements in athletics,” she says. “The history of this event is important because it inspires the future - the bright future I see in the next generation that shines so brightly. Women and girls today have more confidence in their abilities than I have ever seen – not only in sports, but in all areas of their lives.”

This event not only honors achievement but also creates a connection between athletes - women, girls, young and old - who are passionate about sports and confident in what is still to come. We at the U.Va. Women’s Center could not be more excited about this year’s event!

Lauren Perdue was presented with the 2013 U.Va. National Girls and Women in Sports Day Award on February 3rd at halftime at the U.Va. Women’s Basketball game (U.Va. vs.Georgia Tech).

— Article by Liz Grogan, UVa Women's Center

— Photos by Matt Riley, UVa Athletics

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