A grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help promote athletic excellence at Pomona and Pitzer colleges, highly-regarded neighboring institutions in Claremont, California.

The grant funds, totaling $2 million, will support additional team travel and recruiting, improved apparel including a full gear rebrand, upgrades to facilities such as locker rooms, and create two new staff positions. Beyond these tangible improvements, the funding will also serve as a catalyst for boosting competitive spirit and enhancing the student-athlete experience.

“We’re moving quickly to build on our momentum,” said Athletics Director Lesley Irvine, who arrived at Pomona-Pitzer in June 2015 from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. “This generous grant is a huge boost for our student athletes and coaching staff as we strive to excel. Sagehen pride is growing fast.”

Irvine notes the grant was championed by Libby Gates MacPhee, Pomona College Class of 1986, a former Sagehen basketball player and current member of the Pomona College Board of Trustees. “We are incredibly grateful to Libby for her commitment, generosity and enthusiasm for the program,” said Irvine.

Increasing college-wide wellness and athletic engagement, as well as developing the Sagehens’ brand and identity, are some of the key aims behind the grant. Irvine added that the investment is also important as a strong sign of support for a program that has served thousands of collegiate athletes for more than a century.

This year, key accomplishments include women’s tennis winning the ITA Indoor National Championship and lacrosse winning its second straight SCIAC championship. Women’s swim and dive won the SCIAC championship and finished 17th at the NCAA, and women’s soccer won the SCIAC tournament and then advanced to the NCAA round of 32 for its best finish in program history.

Senior John Fowler led the men’s cross country team to the highest national finish in program history (6th), and ran the fastest 5000 meter race in SCIAC history. In women’s cross country, junior Maya Weigel was named NCAA West Region Runner of the Year and took third at nationals to equal the highest finish in Pomona-Pitzer history.

“I keep hearing from alumni about the role Sagehen athletics has played in their lives. Enthusiasm for our teams is building on our campuses as well,” Irvine said. “We are entering an exciting new chapter in athletics, and I can’t wait to see what’s next and what the program will look like a few years down the road.”

About the Program

Competing as the Sagehens , the shared athletics program of Pomona and Pitzer colleges fields 21 varsity teams in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the NCAA’s Division III. Pomona and Pitzer are both members of The Claremont Colleges, a unique consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate institutions in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Sagehen Athletics’ rich history dates back more than a century.

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