Published in Macalester Today
A mentor can make a big impact on a child. Just ask Bailey Rehnberg ’14 (York, Pa.), who founded the Athletic Department’s Little Scots program this semester.
Rehnberg has never forgotten her own mentor (“I basically worshipped her”) from a hometown program that matched female college athletes with local girls. That experience gave her the idea to start a similar program at Mac.
The idea caught on quickly, both with her Mac peers and the elementary school girls Rehnberg connected with through local grade schools and faculty and staff members. Because of the budget allocated by student government, Rehnberg planned to limit the program to 20 pairs but ended up matching 35 girls with mentors and turning away 15 more. There’s certainly room to grow in the future, she says, but her priority was to have a successful start with quality experiences— and whenever possible, to match each kid with a Mac athlete who plays that kid’s favorite sport.
Her timing was right for another reason, as well: the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the legislation that broadened athletic opportunities for women and girls. “We’ve been talking a lot about Title IX on my volleyball team and even in my classes, and in Little Scots we’re fostering relationships in which we can talk about what Title IX means today,” Rehnberg says.
By year’s end the mentors had hosted two events, with two more planned for spring. In November the pairs met to watch a women’s swimming and diving meet, and in December they watched the women’s basketball team beat St. Olaf. Program participants got Little Scots T-shirts, ate pizza, and played games together during halftime.
The relationships Rehnberg was hoping to develop have started to form, she says. “It’s not really anything I can make happen on my own,” she says. “When a little kid is with a big kid and they’re talking and having fun— that’s just a really valuable thing.”