Alumni Friends’ Gift Creates New Fund to Support Women’s Athletics Equity
Ask Susan Rost Monahan ’93 about her time as a Trinity student-athlete, and she recalls the outstanding talents of women’s lacrosse teammates and the impact of their coach, Robin Sheppard M’76, professor of physical education, emerita, former associate director of athletics, and former head coach of the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams.
Monahan, an optometrist who majored in psychology, downplays her own contributions to Trinity women’s lacrosse. But she will always remember the skill and leadership of three particular players who remain her close friends and says of Sheppard, “She is such a charismatic leader and coach and has such an amazing history with Trinity. She influenced me, certainly, but I think she influenced all of the women on her teams in a very positive way.”
Monahan met her husband, Joseph “Jay” W. Monahan ’93, in a freshman seminar, “The Underside of American History.” “Meeting each other was certainly the most important, life-changing aspect of Trinity for both of us,” she says.
The Monahans are among a tight-knit group of friends—all of whom graduated in the 1990s, met their spouses at Trinity, and participated on Bantam sports teams—who recently got together to make a joint leadership gift establishing a new fund at Trinity, one dedicated to supporting equity in women’s athletics. The others who initiated this fund are Billy Hogan ’96 and Jennifer Martinelli Hogan ’98, Sam Kennedy ’95, H’19 and Amanda Johnson Kennedy ’94, and Dan Sullivan ’99 and Kate McLaren Sullivan ’99.
Upon learning about plans to create the fund, two additional Trinity couples—James Kennedy ’99 and Tamara Wiley Kennedy ’97 and Brendan Monahan ’95 and Abigail Hudson Monahan ’94—jumped in with contributions, too. Jamie is Sam Kennedy’s brother and Brendan is Jay Monahan’s brother.
All 12 alumni attest that their time as Trinity students and athletes had a tremendous influence on their lives. Trinity is where they met some of their closest friends and steadiest mentors; in some cases, those mentors were fellow students. For all, participation in athletics was an important part of their college experience, and several went on to pursue athletics-related careers and great achievement in that realm.
Jay Monahan, who played golf and ice hockey at Trinity and since 2017 has served as commissioner of the PGA Tour, says, “You see how much playing competitive college athletics contributes to the experience at Trinity and how it helps prepare people for the challenges and opportunities in life. And, recognizing that we’ve benefited from Trinity athletics, it felt like a nice way for us to lend a hand to a bigger effort that the school has and, in particular, President [Joanne] Berger-Sweeney has, to address equity for female student-athletes.”
“I am grateful to the Hogan, Kennedy, Monahan, and Sullivan families for the significant and heartfelt contribution they have made in support of our female Trinity student-athletes, and in recognition of the meaningful experiences all of them had as Trinity student-athletes,” adds President Joanne Berger-Sweeney. “We have already been able to address some of the work outlined in the recent Title IX audit of the athletic program. It is important to provide our female athletes with the conditions they need to thrive, and for us to recommit to supporting gender equity.”
Jen Hogan ’98, who was co-captain of her lacrosse and soccer teams at Trinity, says of her family’s relocation in 2014 to England, “The move opened up our eyes even more to this challenge. As we moved here, we wanted to find our eldest daughter a football program—soccer in the U.S.—and that was difficult. England is even further behind the States, as far as this movement is concerned. So, we see it and I feel it every day with my daughters. And when we decided [to create the fund], I felt really excited about it.”
Billy Hogan ’96, who was a Trinity ice hockey captain and today is CEO of Liverpool Football Club, says, “I think the critical part was identifying something that can make an impact and ensure that the women who attend Trinity have the same opportunities as the men at Trinity. At the end of the day, these things cost money.
“England won the Women’s Euros last summer, filling the biggest stadiums in the country,” he continues. “There were massive crowds, great TV ratings, and I think the trajectory of women’s sports is really positive. It takes investment, though. All of us in the sports industry are the beneficiaries of decades, if not centuries, of investment. I always think it’s unfair when people say, ‘Well, women’s sports aren’t the same as men’s.’ That’s because we haven’t been investing.”
Jen Hogan adds, “My hope is that we open more people’s eyes. When someone reads this Trinity article, they might think, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that was something where I could make an impact.’”
Sam Kennedy ’95, H’19 and Amanda Johnson Kennedy ’94 both had what he sums up as a “life-changing” experience at Trinity. “It was an amazing group of people we were blessed to meet, and we didn’t realize we were going to be lifelong friends,” says Sam Kennedy, who played baseball at Trinity and now serves as president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox.
Amanda Kennedy says, “While I was not a recruited athlete, I wound up swimming for Coach Chet McPhee, and enjoyed being part of the team. I recall the excitement with the new pool opening at Ferris in 1993 and have been impressed over the years—now decades—with how much the program has grown since the school invested in the expanded facilities.”
Says Sam Kennedy, “When we thought about the College’s Bicentennial milestone, we wanted to do something as a group to give back to a place that’s been so special to us and, specifically, to a school that has prioritized equity and opportunity for all student-athletes and especially the women’s programs, which have really grown and become a huge part of Trinity’s success. Hopefully the statement that this makes about the importance of equity and inclusion will resonate and lead to future women leaders coming out of Trinity College.”
Dan Sullivan ’99 notes that he and Kate McLaren Sullivan ’99 became close friends with several in the group after graduation. “Jamie Kennedy was in our class year, and was my roommate junior year; then after college I joined a men’s hockey league [in the Boston area] with Jamie, Sam, Billy, and Brendan,” he explains.
Staying informed about Trinity men’s ice hockey is important to Dan Sullivan, who is managing principal at a commercial real estate firm, Cresa Boston. “I continue to get regular email updates from Head Coach Matt Greason [’02, M’10], who was a freshman on the team when I was a senior player, so I know him well,” he says. “It’s always good to get those emails, and I’ve been able to attend games over the years, too.”
Kate Sullivan, who is president of Churchill Forge Properties, says, “Dan and I have nieces and nephews who are applying to colleges, so we have encouraged them to consider Trinity and have taken them to see the school. Trinity remains a really important part of our day-to-day life because of the network of fellow alumni we spend so much time with. This is, for us, the first time that we’re donating a substantial gift to the school, and we are excited to give back to the college that gave us so much.”
Having played softball at Trinity, Kate Sullivan says, “Sports were such an incredibly important part of my life and my development. The opportunity to continue building up Trinity’s programs and ensure equitable resources are channeled toward them is really important. I think the future of women’s athletics is incredibly bright.”
Jamie Kennedy ’99, who is vice president, international, of the PGA Tour, and Tamara Wiley Kennedy ’97 shared, “Our daughter is an aspiring collegiate soccer player who has always been involved in sport, and we have seen firsthand the positive effects in terms of self-esteem, social life, and discipline in time management. While an athletic career for our daughter is a current short-term goal, there is no doubt that the long-term support of women’s athletics—both at Trinity and beyond—is something near and dear to our hearts.”
Brendan Monahan ’95, who is managing director at Marsh McLennan, and Abigail Hudson Monahan ’94 shared, “We are so pleased our friends and family members initiated this effort and we’re delighted to contribute. Trinity women’s athletics—all of the College’s athletics programs—are life-changing. The more we can support equal opportunities and resources for all our student-athletes, the more they will flourish and excel, on campus and after graduation.”
Jay Monahan adds, “What it really comes down to is that Trinity women’s athletics is a strength of the school, and it always has been. I think our support of this effort will add to that strength. We’re hopeful other families and individuals who have had similar experiences are going to get behind this, and this will become a collective effort.”
To learn more about the alumni featured in this story, click here.
For more information about supporting equity in women’s athletics and other Power of Bantam Women initiative giving opportunities, please contact Director of Athletics Giving Shannon Malloy Rhatican M’13 at 860-297-2132 or email@example.com.