The leaders of Little Scots (second photograph) are excited to welcome the most participants ever to the program this year. Founded in 2012 by Bailey Rehnbery ’13, the program links young girls with female collegiate athletes in hopes of fostering bonds around sports. Photos courtesy of Little Scots.
Laughs, cheers and the sound of pounding feet rang throughout the field house October 4th, as over a hundred people gathered to kick off the first Little Scots activity of the year. Little Scots is bigger and better than ever with an unprecedented 88 little Scots—young girls from throughout the community—and 51 big Scots—female Mac students excited to share their love of sports and healthy living with the next generation.
Little Scots is a student org at Macalester that brings girls in grades 2-7 from the community who are interested in sports to campus a few times each semester in order to develop relationships between them and current female Mac students. “[Our mission] has multiple parts. An element of mentorship … forwarding a love of women’s athletics … and connecting people here at Macalester to the wider community,” said Lynn Zemaitis ’17, one of the organization’s leaders.
Events hosted by Little Scots include field days where the Scots learn and play a sport, attending Mac athletic events together and other activities. “We try each year to do a cookout too. It’s a really nice opportunity for parents to get involved and to come and see what the program is all about,” said Hannah Pollard-Garber ’16, org leader.
As a relatively new org, started three years ago by Bailey Rehnberg ’13, Little Scots is constantly growing and finding new ways to improve. In past years, the program was structured around pairing littles with bigs to build personal relationships. This year, however, pods of eight or nine littles of similar age and four or five bigs have been implemented. Even before knowing the elevated interest, Zemaitis and Mara Halvorson ’17, another one of the org’s leaders, came up with the idea of pods to help little Scots bond with each other and keep mentors constant. This changes dynamics, allows for more flexibility in the case of an absence and takes into account the overwhelming interest received from families in the community.
In order to accommodate the new system and the mix of new and returning little Scots, the first event of the year was a field day including introductory activities in pods, team building, kickball and sharks and minnows, followed by snacks and time to get to know each other. “Some of the girls were very nervous going into it, but as the day went you could see them start to let their guard down and feel more comfortable,” said Kendall Van Sistine ’16, org leader.
This year Little Scots is trying to host a wider variety of events. Incorporating service into an event is a high priority. “It will show the girls that it’s not enough just to be a good athlete but also to help others and give back,” Van Sistine said. The leadership team also hopes to collaborate with Mac Football. “Although the mission is to pair girls with female athletes and promote that, we think that it’s also important to bridge the gap between what are stereotypically seen as girl sports that girls are funneled into participating and show girls that these options are out here,” Pollard-Garber said.
For the future, Little Scots hopes to get girls from all parts of the community, especially underprivileged groups. “It’s about getting kids who might not otherwise be on campus here,” Van Sistine said. Increased outreach this year had such an overwhelmingly positive response that they have had to turn littles away. In order to keep expanding, the org is always looking for female Mac students who are interested in sports and the mission of the group.
Although little Scots and big Scots have different reasons for being part of the program, they almost always have a good time. “My favorite part are the girls, they’re hysterical. So funny, upbeat and energetic and they look forward to every event. They’re just so fun to hang out with,” Zemaitis said.