In high school, it’s common for female athletes to be referred to by the school mascot using the term “lady” before their name. Depending on what college you attend and if you continue your athletic journey, “lady” could either follow you or get left behind.
HBCUs have a tendency to separate women’s athletics from the men. When referring to a men’s sports team, they are recognized as the mascot of that school, but when the women are being discussed, the word “lady” is placed in front.
As a former athlete, being a “Lady Brave” was fitting for high school. But if I were to continue my journey as an athlete into college, I would prefer not be called a “Lady Rattler”; I would much prefer “Rattler.”
I’m sure it has nothing to do with having to imply that there is a difference between the women playing sports versus men playing sports, but it is more so of a tradition for HBCUs.
Karia Grant-Williams, a former track runner who now attends Florida State University, said, “In high school when I ran track and I was a Lady Titan, I thought nothing of it. I saw almost every school we attended for a track meet called their girls lady and what their respective mascot was. It seemed normal.”
Being that we are in Tallahassee, we have two universities with different approaches as to how women in sports are introduced. You never hear the term “Lady Seminoles.”
“At FSU, all of us are referred to as the Seminoles, not the Lady Seminoles. But I see that at FAMU, they’re called the Lady Rattlers, which doesn’t seem as fair,” said Grant-Williams.
In the history of HBCUs it is known that female athletes are called ladies, but there are still some universities that call their women’s teams ladies and aren’t historically black schools. There have been notions that some schools have wanted to drop the “Lady” from their names, but that has resulted in mixed reactions.
Tatyana Siddeeq, a former weightlifter who attends Florida A&M, said, “I personally liked being a Lady Charger in high school. Being a Lady Rattler doesn’t sound bad either. I feel like it is a preference situation. Either you like it or you don’t.”
As time goes on, whether or not this situation of women athletes being ladies is dismissed or carried on, will be determined by the generation of those athletes. At this point, I don’t see it leaving any time soon due to the fact that there aren’t many issues being noted from female athletes. Maybe everyone likes it or maybe they don’t and just accept the tradition.