Jane Claire Arender

The last and final woman who inspired me through sports was Jane Claire Arender. Arender is a freshman, public relations major from Brandon, MS. She didn’t play any type of sports until she arrived at the University of Southern Mississippi. Through her sorority involvement, she was forced to get her feet wet with intramural sports.

Arender plays coed and all girl intramural sports. She plays coed softball, basketball, softball, dodgeball, and soccer. Arender said she gets annoyed because the Recreation and Sports department at USM places different stipulations on the coed intramural games.

For instance, in softball you have to under hand the ball and pitch it slow pitch. You start the game with one strike automatically, so they take away the idea of “three strikes ur out”. There also has to be a strict rotation of “boy, girl, boy, girl” when playing.

“They go easier on us because we’r girls, which sort of takes some of the fun out of the games. I believe their is equal opportunity for boys and girls in intramural sports at USM but the coed games are definitely bias toward making girls feel more comfortable playing with guys,” Arender said.

I never pegged JC as a sports girl anyway, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out she played intramurals. I’m proud of her for stepping out of her comfort zone and into the world of sports, despite if there may be some biases involved.

Becca Longo

Women make history every single day for so many different reasons, and we create a lot of “firsts” in this country. This is no different for Becca Longo, a senior at Basha High School. Becca has been a star player on her school’s football team since her sophomore year. Longo is headed to Adams State University in Alamosa, Colorado to play football on scholarship. Becca Longo is believed to be the first female to ever sign a letter of intent to play college football at a Division 2 school in the country. Only about a dozen women have played college football before Becca but none with an NCAA scholarship.

Of course she has received support from all over the world having women and men alike encourage her to follow her dreams, but Longo receives negative reactions all the time. Men tell her that football is a boy’s spot,t and she should find something else to occupy her time.

In spite of those who don’t believe in her talent, Longo is truly breaking barriers and paving the way for young girls who will one day aspire to play a “boy’s sport”. Becca says she would tell little girl who aspire to pay football to do what they want to do despite what anyone else says.

I’m motivated and moved by Becca’s courage and her will to keep pushing despite the opposition that comes her way. She is showing the world that women can and will play any sport we want and that we are capable of keeping up with men in the world of sports. I wish her well in her endeavors.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Last mont, I honored women in sports by honoring the those who paved the way for us through writing. To close out Women’s History Month, I would like to do the same by writing about Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee was born in 1962 in East St. Louis, Illinois. At 14, she won the first of four straight national junior pentathlon championships.

In 1984, Jackie Joyner won the Olympic silver medal in the heptathlon. In 1985, she set an American record in the long jump, at 23 ft. 9 in. She went on to set a new world record in the heptathlon at the Goodwill Games in Moscow, with 7,148 points. She was the first woman to surpass 7,000 points. Three weeks later, she beat her own record scoring 7,158 points in the U.S. Olympic Festival in Houston, Texas. Jackie received both the James E. Sullivan Award and the Jesse Owens Award for her many accomplishments and achievements.

Jackie is the founder of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, created to provide youth, adults, and families with the resources to improve their quality of life and to enhance communities worldwide. She created the Jackie Joyner-Kersey Center in her hometown, travels as a motivational speaker, and has even coach a bit. She is certainly versatile and has spread a little black girl magic all over the world! I’m grateful that little black girls everywhere get to live in her legacy.

Anastasia Hayes

While women don’t get nearly as much recognition in the sports world as we deserve, I’ve found that one of the sports we actually get credit in is basketball. The awards and recognition most of the time is centered around black women. In my search for my next honoree, I stumbled across an article on Anastasia Hayes.

Anastasia is from Murfreesboro, Tennessee and is a part of the Riverdale High School basketball team. On Monday, she was named the 2016-17 Gatorade player of the year for Tennessee. Next year, she’ll be heading to Rocky Top as part of the best recruiting class in the country.

She has played in 97 games during her varsity career, averaging about 20 points per game with 1,993 points in total. Along with the Gatorade Player of the Year award, Hayes was named Riverdale Miss Basketball and is a McDonald’s All-American!

Women like Hayes make me want to work so much harder in perfecting my craft. Not in sports, but in life in general. I appreciate her contribution to the sports world and wish her nothing but the best as she pursues a college career in basketball!

 

Claressa Shields

Happy International Women’s Day! It is only right for me to blog on this day honoring and celebrating women in our respective roles in this society, even in the sports world. Today, I am honoring 21-year-old, Olympic gold medalist in boxing, Claressa Shields.

Claressa Shields was born in Flint, Michigan. She was introduced to boxing by her father, Bo Shields, who had boxed in underground leagues. He talked to her about boxer Laila Ali, piquing her interest in the sport. At that time she began boxing at Berston Field House in Flint, where she met her coach and trainer, Jason Crutchfield. Claressa gives credit to her grandmother who encouraged her to not accept restrictions based on her gender.

Shields first made history when she became the first U.S. boxer to win two gold medals in 2016. Claressa will also make history this weekend. She is fighting in the ShoBox event, where she will be competing close to her hometown. This is historic, because Shields has just recently stepped into the world of professional boxing and has only fought in one match. She never dreamed that she would be chosen to fight in the main boxing event for Showtime Boxing.

Even though her transition from the amateurs to the pros just started, Shields is very excited and unbothered about fighting her opponent on March 10, 2017.  Her opponent is a Hungarian fighter who has fought 23 pro fights and has gone 134 rounds. This seems intimidating compared to Shields’ one pro fight and four rounds. Yet Shields isn’t concerned about the disparity and is also heavily favored to beat her opponent.

Thank you to Claressa Shields for having the courage to break gender barriers in boxing and for not letting her age or lack of experience keep her from taking a chance and establishing herself in a male dominated field. Her black girl magic is showing! #BlackGirlMagic

Sheryl Swoopes

It seems to me that African-American women are good at being “first” when it comes to sports. Our next black, female legend is Sheryl Denise Swoopes. Swoopes was born March 25, 1971. She was born in Brownfield, Texas where she was raised by her mother Louise Swoopes. She was introduced to basketball by her three older brothers. At seven years old, she began competing in a local children’s league called Little Dribblers. Her high school basketball career took place at Brownfield High.

After college, Sheryl Swoopes became the first player to sign with the Women’s National Basketball Association, which made its debut in 1997. She is frequently referred to as the “female Michael Jordan” and is famous for both her offensive and defensive skills on the court.

Swooped was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year for basketball as well as the National Player of the Year by nine different organizations. Those organizations include USA Today and Sports Illustrated. She was an Olympic gold medalist in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Swoopes played for the WNBA’s Houston Comets for 11 years and was named the league’s MVP three times. Swoopes is the first women’s basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her: the “Air Swoopes”. She is now a motivational speaker, coach, wife, and mom. Thank you Sheryl Swoopes for your contribution to the sports world! #BlackGirlMagic

Black Women in Sports Foundation

Did you know there is a foundation dedicated to black women in the sports world in the city of Philadelphia? Me either! It makes my heart happy to know that a foundation was created just for us to honor us and raise awareness of our existence in the world of sports.

This foundation was created in 1992. The Black Women in Sport Foundation, or BWSF, is a nonprofit organization that strives to increase the involvement of black women and girls in all aspects of sport, including athletics, coaching and administration. It’s dedicated to this because being involved in sports promotes character building. The founders believed participating in sports would build perseverance, self-discipline and teamwork.

The foundation partners with a host of donors such as GoGirlGo! Foundation, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Larry S. Newman Memorial Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation, and Middle States Tennis Association. BWSF offers scholarships, hosts essay writing competitions, and volunteer opportunities for high school aged black girls involved with sports programs.The foundation also has internship and employment opportunities for those who would like to work closely with them.

I’m thankful that someone had the heart and mind to start this foundation! Black girl magic in sports is being spread all over the country!