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.

McKenna Bryant

The next woman that inspired me to write about women in sports is McKenna Bryant. McKenna is a freshman, political science major from Hattiesburg, MS. She plans to be the president of the United States one day. Besides her political aspirations, McKenna has been dancing since she was a little girl. Her two older sisters inspired her to participate in dance and gymnastics.

Bryant said she hates when people say “dancing is not a sport”.

“I most definitely believe dancing is a sport, it requires the utmost physicality, athleticism, and hard work and dedication. Dancing requires just as many physical skills and just as many practices as any other sport to attain such skills,” Bryant said.

She’s also not a fan of how men are seen as more feminine when they choose to dance. She thinks that dancing requires an extraordinary amount of strength that men and women both possess. Bryant believes it is important not to put a “gender” on sports.

We’ve made a heap of progress when it comes to equality in sports, but McKenna gave me a new perspective to think about. In some sports labeled “for women only”, men deal with some of the same identity and equality issues as women in predominantly male sports. We should all be working to erase stigmas in the sports world, so that everyone can play whatever sport they want to without backlash.

Misty Copeland

I believe it’s important to give credit where credit is due. So today, I’m giving credit to Misty Copeland for using dance to advocate for African-American rights, healthy eating, and inclusion.

Misty Copeland was the first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. She grew up in an unstructured home, consumed with poverty, and listening to music that doesn’t necessarily coincide with classically ballet – such as Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin. She didn’t even start dancing until she was 13 years old.

Copeland recently released her book “Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You.” She hopes that her readers feel that they have “an opportunity to start fresh no matter what age they are.” In her life as a public speaker, author, and dancer, she advocates for better food in grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods, more diversity in big name dance companies, and going passed just having the conversation about different shapes and sizes being allowed to dance classically.

Along with her many other awards and accomplishments, Misty became the first classical dancer with a sports brand endorsement. She recently spoke against the CEO of said brand, Under Armor, who made comments endorsing Donald Trump. She wanted her fans to know her views and what she as a person stands for.

I for one am so proud of everything Misty Copeland has and will accomplish through her various platforms. She has paved the way for little black girls who want to be ballerinas and people everywhere who want to live healthier lives. Copland is spreading black girl magic all over the world.

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.

Aaliyah Bass

As you all know, I am using the month of February to highlight black, female superstars in the sports world. This time, instead of searching online, I did some local research paired with interviewing and found another precious, African-American superwoman in the sports world. She is a USM track team participant who is using her platform to introduce other women to Jesus.

Aaliyah Bass is a freshman, Athletic Training major from Jackson, MS. She walked-on to the USM Track and Field Team this year, so she is currently not receiving scholarship at this time. She doesn’t let the fact that she isn’t on scholarship determine how hard she works and plans to soon receive one from the athletic department. Aaliyah is a short distance sprinter.

Aaliyah says, “I run because it takes me where I want to go.”

The most interesting thing I learned about her was that she is apart of FCA, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She has actively and single-handedly gotten several of her teammates to join her in this organization over the last semester. Aaliyah believes the only reason God allowed her to be apart of the team was for His glory and her outreach. She thinks her purpose in this sport is much bigger than just running because evidently she’s not even as fast as she used to be right now! Thank you for your contributions to the sports world girl. I hope that you keep spreading black girl magic and the love of Christ to your peers!

Bessie Coleman

When we think of sports, we usually think of games such as basketball, football, soccer, tennis, or track. We don’t usually think of cheer, dancing, and definitely not flying as a sport. The Oxford dictionary defines sport as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. By definition, Bessie Coleman participated in a “sport” when she flew her planes.

Bessie Coleman was born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas. She was one of 13 children born to her parents who were both sharecroppers. She was the first African American woman to obtain a pilot’s license. Because African Americans nor women were able to attend piloting school in America, she flew to France to become a licensed pilot. Although her goal of opening a flying school for African-Americans was never fulfilled, she paved the way for others to “defy gravity” and break down walls built to stop us from progressing. Bessie was known as “Queen Bess” to people who came to her shows and was known for her gravity-defying and very dangerous tricks.

On April 30, 1926, Bessie died in a flying accident during a rehearsal at age 34. Bessie’s life shows us that black women can accomplish anything in life and in the sports world that we set our minds to. Bessie is still showing us today how we can break barriers and restraints that are set against us. Thank you Bessie! #BlackGirlMagic

Imani, Sports, or the lack there of.

This is the post excerpt.

Here’s the thing:

My name is Imani Harris. I’m a sophomore Public Relations major with a minor in Black Studies. I love singing, eating, reading, and pretending to be a fitness enthusiast. I’m super involved on my college campus just as I was in high school BUT…

The catch is: I have NEVER played a sport in my life. PE was never my favorite thing (I preferred music and art), and although athleticism is in my genes, I had no desire to play on any sports team….ever. I was apart of show choir for seven years, which is the closest thing to athletic that I have ever been in my life. So when given the task of creating a blog site specifically centered around sports, I was anxious and unprepared to say the least.

After a few days of contemplating and brainstorming, I realized that I could use my love for women, being a woman, and being a black woman specifically to my advantage wth this blog. With that being said, my posts will be centered around black women in the sports field. That could range from the wives of male athletics to black. female olympic gold medalists. It is my hope to write blogs that will spark more interest in women’s sports and support black women athletes. Representation truly matters, so I hope my readers will get insight and inspiration from my posts. Let’s see how this goes!