April 28, 2011
By MATT SWISS
GoRhody.com Staff Writer
KINGSTON, R.I. -- Since her arrival on the University of Rhode Island campus less than two years ago, Lynn Baker-Dooley has made it a point of emphasis to raise awareness for women's athletics at the University of Rhode Island.
Through her efforts and enthusiasm, she has helped to pioneer the Friends of Women's Athletics (FOWA) committee, which is comprised of alumni, donors, coaches, and athletics administrators. The goal: raising awareness and cultivating prominent business leaders and community leaders for the benefit of URI women's athletics.
"Our teams are doing really well and they need some fans," Baker-Dooley said. "We have a lot to be proud of and they need to be appreciated. The support for women's athletics should be more widespread."
On Saturday, June 11, the Friends of Women's Athletics will hold the second annual An Evening of Grapes And Grain - hosted by Baker-Dooley and Dr. David M. Dooley from 6-9 p.m. at the President's House on 56 Upper College Road. Proceeds from the annual fundraising event, which features a wide selection of wines and beers, hors d'oeuvres, raw bar, and a silent auction, will go towards financing URI's women's athletics.
Friends of Women's Athletics co-chairperson Diane Sullivan spoke of the success of the inaugural event, held last June.
"The results last year were great, based on it being the first time we ran the event," Sullivan said. "It was a nice evening and we raised a decent amount of money. This year, we want to increase our sponsorship dollars and increase the number of people in attendance."
Throughout the 2010-11 season, Baker-Dooley hosted several FOWA gatherings in the President's Suite in conjunction with home women's basketball games. On Feb. 23, while the Rams took on Dayton, some of the most prominent female business leaders in the state enjoyed a pregame meal and the birds-eye view of the action on the court below.
The events both marketed and promoted the aspirations and objectives of the committee. And the location of the gatherings - at the Ryan Center - also served as a showcase for one of the most significant events in the arena's nine-year history: the 2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship East Regional. This event - which will send a team to the women's Final Four - is sure to bring a great deal of attention to the University.
Sue Bergen, Rhode Island's Associate AD for Finance and the athletics department's Senior Woman Administrator, says the goal of the committee is to expand the base of boosters the University has for women's athletics. The NCAA Tournament will undoubtedly help.
"The exposure gained from the NCAA East Regional is going to be wonderful or our women's basketball program, the Ryan Center, the University, and URI Athletics as a whole. This will help grow the base of fans and supporters that we are trying to build for the support for women's athletics."
From the pre-game receptions, to An Evening of Grapes and Grain, the Friends of Women's Athletics Committee has made noticeable and important strides over the last year. And the goal is to continue that growth.
"Lynn Baker-Dooley has been gracious enough to host all these events that we are having," Bergen said. "We hosted three events with local business leaders in the President's Suite this year. The coaching staffs and student-athletes of our women's sports are getting involved. We are looking to raise the stature and financial base for women's athletics and that will ultimately elevate our programs."