Editorial: Support women’s sports beyond Women’s History Month


Amber Siegel

A basketball player, softball player and soccer player portrayed as superheroes. The Northern Star Editorial Board believes NIU students should support women’s sports more as they bring home a lot of accomplishments.

Editor’s note: Joey Trella, opinion editor and NIU student-athlete, was not a part of writing this editorial. 

NIU women’s sports have proven to the world that they deserve more eyes and attention from the NIU student body and fans.

Students shouldn’t feel the need to come support their Huskies solely on the basis that they are women. Students should feel the need to support their Huskies because they are great at what they do and put on a show night in and night out. 

This year alone, NIU women student-athletes brought home six All-MAC (Mid-American Conference) awards.

Senior forward A’Jah Davis, an All-MAC first team honoree, broke the all-time NIU record for double-doubles with 54, surpassing Tammy Hinchee who had 50 double-doubles from 1986-1990. Graduate student guard Janae Poisson scored her 1,000th career point on Nov. 18 en route to a 39-point victory over Western Illinois University. Senior guard Chelby Koker was selected to the All-MAC second team one year after tearing her ACL. Koker averaged 15.4 points per game for the Huskies, ranking ninth in scoring in the MAC.

Davis, Poisson and Koker led the Huskies to their seventh straight Mid-American Conference berth during the 2022-2023 season.

Junior Alyssa Al-Ashari, senior Natalie Hamp and sophomore Emmalise Nock produced stellar seasons for NIU gymnastics. All three gymnasts were selected to represent NIU at the NCAA Denver Regional on Thursday. Al-Ashari and Hamp also brought home All-MAC honors.

NIU softball is currently sporting a 5-2 record in conference play and is sitting in third place in the MAC standings. Freshman utility player Danielle Stewart was named MAC Pitcher of the Week Tuesday after being credited with two wins and a save in a weekend series sweep of Miami University.

The Huskie women student-athletes have the accolades to prove that they are worth watching, but the sad truth is they don’t have the support from the students.

Men’s basketball home games had an average attendance of 628 fans per game while women’s basketball games had an average of 408 fans per game, according to results from a Freedom of Information Act filed by the Northern Star.

NIU men’s basketball finished the year with a 5-7 home record while women’s basketball finished with a 9-4 home record. Why does the team that plays more winning basketball have fewer fans in the stands?

Fans sometimes forget that both women and men student-athletes play at the highest level of college athletics. 

“I think spectators in general would be pleasantly surprised with the level of competition, the athleticism and the quality (of play),” NIU women’s soccer head coach Michael O’Neill said. “Sometimes, in society, the stereotypical approach is women’s sports is maybe not as entertaining or not as fast-paced or not as skilled.”

Athletes feed off of the atmosphere that the fans create and, as a result, put on a better show. When Huskies show up for their fellow Huskies, the groundwork of a mutually beneficial relationship for both student-athletes and fans is built.

NIU softball senior infielder Kelly Walinski detailed how fans have affected her team in a positive way.

“We’re a team with a lot of energy,” Walinski said. “We have a lot of spunk and we have a lot of fun when we’re playing, and I think that the crowd can only add to that for us … It’s always good to look up when you’re in a game and you see a crowd full of people. It feels like they’re there fighting that fight with you and playing that game with you.”

Having the support of fans creates a culture of school-wide camaraderie. Fans that support their student-athletes help create a bond between the entire student body.

“The footballs and the basketballs of the world get a higher outreach as it relates to spectators,” O’Neill said. “But you know, we’re all NIU Huskies. It’s a big reason to come and support the other programs that also have the Huskie logo on their chest.”