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.

Rape Culture is Alive: Women in Sports

I would be remised if I didn’t highlight this topic in my blog about women in sports, because it is important and it deserves to be talked about. In our society rape and sexual assault are topics many fail to adequately talk about with young girls, which makes it harder for them to deal with it. We pretend it doesn’t happen, so when it does, some women are too ashamed to talk about it. Rape and sexual assault undeniably happens to men and women alike in the sports world, but the first time I was ever introduced to the topic publicly was a few years ago.

Larry Nassar, 53, was accused publicly of having assaulted dozens of young women, most of the cases disguised as medical treatment. Nasser worked at Michigan State for about twenty years as a team physician. He also worked with USA Gymnastics during the same time frame. This man has clearly worked very closely with women, giving him several opportunities to commit crimes against them. At this point, up to 69 women have accused him of some form of sexual assault. Last month, Nassar was accused of deleting evidence of child pornography that would’ve been used to convict him of his crimes. He faces up to a lifetime in prison.

The funny things is I haven’t read or heard anything else about Nassar’s case since it first opened. Something as big as this should be constantly in the news reminding sexual assault victims that if they tell their stories, justice can be obtained. Rape culture is still alive and well today, and it’s time we dealt with it openly, publicly, and viscously. It is very easy for a man or women to disguise sexual assault as medical treatment when working closely with the female population in the sports world. Cases like this staying in the public eye could help save the mental and spiritual lives of lots of women just trying to prove themselves in sports.

Girls: if you know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, whether it’s a friend or yourself, don’t be afraid to tell someone. You deserve justice.

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!

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

Wilma Rudolph

It’s no secret that women in sports, especially black women, don’t get enough credit for what they do. So, during black history month, I will be using my blog to highlight the groundbreaking things African American women did for the world of sports. My first legend is Wilma Rudolph.

Wilma was diagnosed with polio at an early age and wore leg braces for the better part of her life. During the 1960 Olympics, she became the first black women to win three gold medals in track and field in a single Olympics. She was deemed the “fastest women in the world“.

She once said, “The triumph can’t be had without the struggle. And I know what struggle is. I have spent a lifetime trying to share what it has meant to be a woman first in the world of sports so that other young women have a chance to reach their dreams.”

She founded the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to advocate and be a voice for amateur athletics. Wilma died on November 12, 1994, after losing a long battle with brain cancer. Wilma is just ONE of the many black women who paved the way for the rest of us. I’m so glad she made her way through the world of sports sprinkling #blackgirlmagic the entire way.