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.

Indiana University: Sexual Assault Policy

While sexual assault in the sports world deserves way more media coverage and action attached to said coverage, it certainly is refreshing to read news about colleges making strides to protect their students.

While the legislation is very limited as far as what counts against sexual assault perpetrators, Indiana University announced that it will refuse student-athlete applicants convicted for or with a history of sexual assault. This is definitely an ethical move for Indiana but a good PR tactic as well seeing that the school was under fire in the past for administrative staff being accused of sexual assault. Critics believe that this may just be a move in the interest of recruiting for the university and not a safety precaution for the students.

I believe the benefits in this case may outweigh the negative comments. Students will feel protected knowing that those who have committed sexual assault crimes will not be a part of the community of glorified athletes on their campus. Indiana also has programs in place to protect students from sexual assault in general. I do believe the new policy should be rewritten to include sections about when athletes are accused of sexual assault and already have an athletic scholarship. The university definitely needs to revisit the topic to broaden the safety aspect of it, but all in all, I’m grateful that strides such as this one are being made in the area of sexual assault on college campuses.

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.

Laxmi Priya Sahoo and Rugby!

When I think of privilege, I never consider the fact that women in America have privilege. We are privileged in regards to our ability to be able to play whatever sport we would like to play. I often forget that women in other countries are faced with so many rules and regulations in regards to appearance, career, sports, and other things women in America don’t deal with. Their participation in sports is frowned upon much more than ours is. SO today I honor Laxmi Priya Sahoo, an Indian woman who started breaking barriers in the world of rugby years ago.

Laxmi was expelled from two schools as a child because of the frequent fights she would get into with her peers. Her parents enrolled her into boxing classes as punishment without knowing how much she’d actually enjoy the sport. Her boxing coach unknowingly sparked Laxmi’s interest in rugby by telling her “girls aren’t cut out for it”.

Laxmi has competed internationally in rugby winning all sorts of medals and awards and is now helping to facilitate rugby in India. She plays for the Rugby India team. She says that her parents, neighbors, and country as a whole are no longer indifferent to rugby and the women who play it, but they now appreciate it.

“Rugby awareness has grown considerably in Orissa over the past few years following successes of its players in the international arena. In the “Get Into Rugby” program – an initiative started by Rugby India four years ago in which the sport is taught in schools – almost half the participants are girls,” which was stated in the ESPNW article written about Laxmi.

Ashlee Burdg

While most of the blogs I’ve written have been centered around black women, I would be remised if I didn’t write about the beautiful, astonishing Ashlee Burdg. When researching to establish what woman I would write about next, I came across an article on ESPNW  written by Mirin Fader on March 6, 2017 centered around Burdg.

Ashlee Burdg attends Billings High School in Oklahoma where she is the only female on her school’s male basketball team. She is a junior and is the FIRST girl to play for a boys’ high school basketball team within the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. After Burdg, her family, and Billings’ athletic administration lobbied for nearly two months for her to join the team. After convincing the board, Burdg joined the boys’ team in October after Billings didn’t have enough players for a girls’ team.

Right before the team’s first game, their opponent forfeited because it was not in their religion beliefs that a woman should be allowed on a man’s team. Burg’s coach believe in her talent and abilities and would not let her sit the game out. Since then, the school district and the boy’s basketball team have watched Ashlee shine in some of the toughest games. She plans to try out for the boy’s football team next season.

I for one am grateful for Ashley’s confidence and courage to fight for her rights to play on whatever team she wants to. Like Ashlee, there have been several instances exactly like this one all over the country. Hannah McNulty became the first girl to play for a high school boys’ basketball team in Vermont in 2011. This topic has sparked debate all over the world because of people’s unwillingness to believe that a woman can hold her own against a man in the world of sports. I’m grateful that there are women including Ashlee breaking these barriers.

Laila Ali

Keeping the celebration of black history going, our next African-American, female legend in the sports world is Laila Amaria Ali.

Ali was born Dec. 30, 1977. She is the daughter of the late heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and Veronica Porch Ali. Ali is the eighth of her father’s nine children. During her career, she held titles from the likes of the World Boxing Council, International Women’s Boxing Federation, International Boxing Association female super middleweight titles, and many more. Laila retired from boxing with an undefeated record.

What many people don’t know is that she was successful before she won her many accolades and awards for boxing. Laila Ali was a nail tech by the age of 16. She owned her very own nail studio before she started boxing at the age of 18. Along with owning a successful business and being a world renowned boxer, Laila has also tried her hand in acting. She is known for her roles in American Gladiator and Daddy’s Girl.

This woman is versatile and has shown the world what black girl magic looks like in several different roles. Although she will always be known for her sports contributions, I will choose to remember her for being a well-rounded, talented, and beautiful black woman. #BlackGirlMagic