Sydney Ruzicka

“I think above all, girls sports are perceived less as a sport, easier than guy sports, and are expected to be played at a less intense level.”

As a tribute to a few amazing women I met during my sophomore year of college, I’d like to end my blog by blogging about them. First up: Sydney Ruzicka.

Sydney is a freshman, public health administration major from Kiln, MS where she attended Hancock High School. She played basketball for the Hancock Lady Hawks for three years. Ruzicka started playing basketball in first grade. She said that when she started playing sports, she was in the 6-7 age group and it was coed.

“Gender really didn’t matter at this age, we were all uncoordinated and all struggled to even hit the rim of the goal,” Ruzicka said.

Ruzicka’s comments about the sport’s world reminded me of my sentiments of every aspect of our society – men are privileged to be men and are given special treatment. Ruzicka said her team was treated as less skilled and not taken as serious as the boys basketball team. The guys received a lot more funding and recognition than girl’s sports at her high school.

I for one am proud of Ruzicka for pushing through negative comments and regards to women in sports and doing what she loves. I’ve been a victim of her awesome talent in basketball, and I love her for her strength and courage! #GirlPower

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.

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.

Sharita Taylor: Special Olympics Figure Skater

Along with not giving women enough credit when its due, society also doesn’t recognize another community when its merited: the special needs community. So with my post today, I am highlighting the amazingly talented Sharita Taylor, a Special Olympics ice skater.

She and her twin sister have been ice skating since they were four years old. The two have numerous gold and silver medals between them, one thing they don’t have is an ounce of sibling rivalry. Sharita was selected to represent the United States at the Winter Special Olympics in Austria recently. Along with practicing her butt off, Sharita was chosen to do interviews to promote the World Winter Games at the Super Bowl LI’s Radio Row in Houston with Special Olympics ambassador and actress Brooklyn Decker.

Not only is Sharita sprinkling black girl magic every where and making history despite autism, she’s making others aware of how hard people with disabilities work to compete in the sports world. Women and Special Olympic participants alike deserve more credit, encouragement, and coverage in the media. I wish Sharia the best of like in Austria.

Women in the Olympics

Seeing that it is Women’s History Month, I would like to use my latest blog post to highlight some of women’s “firsts” in the Olympics to celebrate our contributions.

Women have historically been excluded from areas of sports, but in the year 1900 women were allowed to compete in the Olympics. Twenty-two women out of the 997 athletes competed in just 5 sports. These included tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrian and golf, but only golf and tennis had events for only women.

Women’s basketball became a section of the Olympics in 1976. In 1928, women participated in the Olympic gymnastics for the first time. In 1980, there was women’s hockey. Women’s boxing was allowed in the Olympics in 2012, which was 100 years later men’s boxing was allowed.

In 2012, the Olympic games hosted in London were the first Olympics where every country included female athletes. This was also the first Olympics in which women competed in all sports in the program.

Although female participation in the Olympics and sports in general has risen significantly, there us still a lack of womanly presence in Olympic administration. This should be the next problem we tackle as far as the Olympics go. I’m inspired and motivated by those women who were brave enough to compete in the Olympics when it was so far fetched.

Megan Walker

While I don’t particularly agree that women’ sports should have a separate branch on the ESPN website, I do love scrolling through it t get updates on what our wonderful, powerful, and inspirational women are doing in the sports world. I stumbled upon the next black women I am celebrating through my blog while researching recently. Today, I honor Megan Walker, a high school senior at Monacan High School in Virginia.

Walker, a McDonald’s All-American and the number one player in the ESPNW HoopGurlz Top 100 for the 2017, says that her last wish as a high school basketball player is to capture a third straight Virginia state title in her last state championship game.

As a sophomore, she was named the Class 4A Player of the Year in Virginia and made the Richmond Times Dispatch’s All-Metro team. As a junior, she was named the Gatorade Virginia player of the year and the Times Dispatch’s All-Metro Player of the Year. She also won a gold medal as the captain of Team USA’s U18 squad and added a silver medal for her work in the 3-on-3 competition.

Not only does she have accolades and awards in basketball, she was also named Monacan’s homecoming queen. With her busy schedule looming over her, Walker is still making time to attend her high school prom and graduation.

One thing that inspires me about Walker is that she can play all five positions at the prep level. She has worked hard over these past 4 year stop learn and execute every position, so now she is versatile and flexible in the sport.

I for one am surely motivated by Megan Walker. I am not into sports, but I am inspired to be flexible and versatile in my personal areas of interest; so that I can help others excel and be great just as she has. I am overwhelmed with the amount of #blackgirlmagic Megan Walker has shown the world of women’s basketball in so many different aspects. You go girl!

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.