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.

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.

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.

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!

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