Wellesley Volleyball Team Encourages Fellow Athletes to Register to Vote
“Our team is 100% registered to vote!” The Wellesley volleyball team posted that message to its Instagram account on September 28, and it challenged other Wellesley teams as well as volleyball teams at MIT, Tufts, and Babson to join them.
This is how Tiffany Shou ’22, who manages the account, and her teammate Izzy Seebold ’22 jumped into voter registration efforts ahead of the 2020 election. Seebold got the idea from her best friend, who plays volleyball at Juniata College and had shared posts on Instagram about her team’s effort. Seebold said it felt very Wellesley to encourage her teammates and other student-athletes to vote. “I know a lot of athletes at school are also very outspoken about current issues,” she said. “I think wanting everybody to be registered to vote was kind of natural, and not just a way for us to be registered to vote, but to show our community that we’re registering to vote, and that’s something you should be doing too.”
As a result of the student-led initiative, members of a number of Blue teams, including cross country, soccer, basketball, swimming, and fencing, have registered to vote. Seebold said the registration effort gives the teams an opportunity to compete together and to represent Wellesley athletics as a whole to the College and the greater community.
“We can all unify together for the election, and make sure that we’re doing our civic duty.”Izzy Seebold ’22
“It is great to see our volleyball team taking the lead on this,” said Bethany Ellis, director of athletics and chair of the Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics department. “Our department’s mission emphasizes responsibility to oneself and others, and I cannot think of a better way for our students to show this than by taking the initiative to encourage each other to vote. We’ve also encouraged our teams and coaches to be flexible when scheduling activities and practices on Election Day to make sure that our students have the opportunity to exercise this critical responsibility.”
Neither Seebold nor Shou was very involved in politics before starting the voter registration initiative. “Personally, I used to hate politics,” Seebold said, but being a student at Wellesley has led her to take an interest, as has meeting so many students from a variety of backgrounds and with different opinions.
Shou said the Black Lives Matter protests helped galvanize her interest in politics. “I realized this is my civic duty to my country, to be involved,” she said. She also recognizes that athletes have a good platform from which to encourage involvement. The volleyball team has a nationwide following on Instagram, she said, as do other teams. Over the summer, nearly all the athletic teams at Wellesley posted their own statements about BLM or shared the statement made by Wellesley Athletics.
Seebold said athletes represent a diverse population of the College community and that it’s good to show that “we can all unify together for the election, and make sure that we’re doing our civic duty.”
In her social psychology class, Seebold said, she recently learned of students who are disenchanted with voting because they feel nothing actually changes the system. She said she had never thought about the system in that way, which she attributes to her privilege, but she said it’s worth registering, regardless of how you feel about the system, so that the opportunity is available should you decide to vote.
Though this is the first time the volleyball team has explicitly encouraged voting, they have made other statements on their social media account supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and highlighting teammates going to Black Lives Matter protests. Shou said she would love to continue finding ways to engage Wellesley's student-athletes that help the whole community.