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Wecker, Wildcats Give Back on National Girls and Women in Sports Day

February 5, 2018
By Corbin McGuire

Kendra Wecker never turns down an opportunity to return to Manhattan if she can help it, especially one like Saturday when K-State hosted a special event for National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

“Manhattan’s a great place to be, a great to visit, a great place to grow up for four years of college. It was literally the best four years of my life, just being around great people,” said Wecker, one of six current and former K-State student-athletes to take part in a panel discussion to end Saturday’s event, which included more than 300 girls from first to eighth grade. “I had never done anything like that before, and when Kristin (Waller) asked me to do it, I said absolutely.”

Waller, who played for the Wildcats from 1998-02 and now serves as K-State’s assistant athletics director of student-athlete services, was also on the panel. The other four were Marlies Gipson, a four-year letterwinner who was part of K-State’s 2008 Big 12 Championship team and currently teaches fourth grade at Fort Riley; Kylee Zumach, a redshirt junior outside hitter for K-State volleyball; Kennedy Felice, a junior for K-State rowing; and Janee’ Kassanavoid, a senior for K-State track and field.

Hosted by Cori Pinkett, former K-State director of student-athlete development who’s now working for Women Leaders in College Sports, the panel covered a number of topics. The six Wildcats shared their definitions of leadership, talked about ways to develop self-confidence at an early age and discussed how to overcome or stop bullying.

“Hopefully it’s really impactful,” Wecker said of the panel discussion. “We all kind of have different backgrounds but, at the same time, we’re all very similar in the fact that we’re very confident in ourselves and we grew up and realized how important self-confidence is just to be able to really survive in the world. Whether that is in school or some day in a job, there’s just so much going on that I think a lot of people don’t realize and it’s sad. Hopefully we were able to say a few things, even just a line or two, that really sticks with somebody.”


While Saturday’s event ended on a serious note, it started with an activity-filled sports clinic. More than 50 current student-athletes and a handful of former Wildcats volunteered to run sport-specific stations that allowed the 300-plus children to get a feel for sports such as rowing, tennis, volleyball, basketball, golf, soccer and track.

“It’s always good to give back to the community,” senior high jumper Rhizlane Siba said. “It’s always fun to just see the smile on their faces, especially girls, and letting them know they have the choice of doing sports or not doing sports.”

“We had a lot of girls come up to us and they were, like, ‘We’ve never played volleyball before,’ so we just kind of gave them the very basics,” junior middle blocker Macy Flowers added. “It gets them interested and then they’ll try it out at school, hopefully, and go on from there, which is kind of cool.”

Added K-State junior rower Selena Wapelhorst: “To be able to come here and be with college athletes and have them work one-on-one with us, I think that’s a really cool opportunity.”

As expected, the stations made for many memorable exchanges.

For Flowers, it was interacting with some of the same students the Wildcats met in their Cats in the Classroom experiences. For Wapelhorst, it was helping and watching children learn how to row on erg machines.

“I had a three-year-old on one of the ergs who was trying to row. I thought I would have to hold the handle for her because I didn’t know if she could actually pull it, and she did,” she said. “She surprised me and it was awesome.”

As for Siba, she said one of the many races at her track station would stick with her.

“One of the girls fell, and the rest of them didn’t really care about who was winning the race. They just wanted her to get back up,” Siba said. “It was my day off and I really felt like I spent it well.”



We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Corbin McGuire, or K-State Associate AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.


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