As March begins, so does one of the most important months of the year: Women’s History Month. Women in sports have changed nearly every aspect of the industry for the better. It would be impossible to do each of them justice, but the work they’ve done deserves to be celebrated.
A powerhouse in baseball
Baseball has long been known as one of America’s favorite pastimes. It is the oldest major professional sport in the world, founded in 1876. Over the course of nearly 150 years, it has changed the lives of many, including Kim Ng.
Kim Ng has long been a part of the world of baseball. Currently, she serves as the general manager of the Miami Marlins, making her the highest-ranking female in baseball. Ng is the first female general manager in MLB history, but it didn’t come easy. Along with being the first female executive, Ng is also the first East Asian American to achieve such a high position in baseball.
Ng’s career in baseball began as an intern for the Chicago White Sox in 1991. Since then, she has held the titles of special projects analyst, assistant director of baseball operations, director of waivers and records, assistant general manager, and now general manager. Kim became the first and youngest woman to hold many of these positions, breaking the glass ceiling time and time again.
Ng serves as an inspiration for women everywhere. Her current position and the path she took to get here show young women everywhere that in a male-dominated sport as old as baseball, women can and will leave their mark.
Hockey’s leading woman
When you think about hockey, it may be easy to get caught up in the brute force and fearlessness it takes to play the sport, but never-ending skating sessions and broken sticks didn’t scare Kendall Coyne-Schofield; they invited her to stay for more.
Coyne-Schofield’s relentless pursuit of greatness has led her to the top. She is now regarded as one of the best women’s hockey players in the world. The three-time Olympic medalist has paved her way in the world of hockey, winning countless awards and receiving never ending recognition.
Her hockey career was the first of its kind, leading her to become the first woman to ever take place in the NHL All-Star Skills competition. Coyne-Schofield replaced NHL superstar Nathan McKinnon in the fastest-skater challenge in 2019, where she placed seventh.
Fresh off a silver medal in Beijing, she is still a member of the USA Women’s Hockey Team. Coyne-Schofield has also gotten the chance to put her hockey knowledge to work as a coach. In 2020, she was hired as the first female player development coach for the Chicago Blackhawks. If that wasn’t enough, Coyne-Schofield has also changed the world of NHL color commentary, a position she held for the San Jose Sharks in 2017.
The impact she has left on the world of hockey and young women everywhere is bigger than any accomplishment summary could explain, but luckily, her advice is available for all, “Always follow your dreams, believe in yourself, and be willing to put in the work it takes to accomplish your dreams.”
Trailblazing the NBA
If you follow basketball closely, you’ve heard of Becky Hammon. She is an exceptional player, a phenomenal coach, and a role model for women everywhere.
Hammon’s playing career was monumental, but what she’s done since then has changed the course of basketball history. In 2014, Hammon became the second female coach in NBA history when she was hired by the San Antonio Spurs, a team she had collaborated with closely in the past. Later that year, Hammon was named ESPNW’s Woman of the Year.
Since 2014, Hammon’s success has only multiplied. One of her most notable accomplishments came in 2020 when she served as the first-ever female acting head coach in the league. Her tremendous work ethic, basketball knowledge, and coaching abilities led her to become the head coach of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces in 2021. She is now the highest-paid women’s basketball coach in history.
Hammon’s tremendous talent for basketball has been recognized by all. She has been praised by coaches, analysts, and, most importantly, her players. NBA legend Pau Gasol wrote an article titled, “An Open Letter About Female Coaches“, where he talked about the importance and excellence of Hammon.
“I’m telling you: Becky Hammon can coach. I’m not saying she can coach pretty well. Im not saying she can coach enough to get by, Im not saying she can coach almost at the level of the NBA’s male coaches. Im saying: Becky Hammon can coach NBA basketball. Period.”
Gasol emphasized the importance of females in basketball after witnessing Hammon’s impact on his team firsthand. Hammon is an inspiration to women everywhere as she continues to blaze trails in the world of basketball and sports.
“Well into adulthood, you have to be careful of the voices that you listen to. You got to guard your eyes, what you’re seeing, you got to guard your ears, what you’re hearing, because eventually, that stuff seeps into your heart. I think what settles into your heart is eventually what you become.” Hammon told the Bronx Times.
Her advice and her actions show young women everywhere that they can accomplish whatever settles into their hearts, whether it’s been done before or not.
Football’s first ladies
In recent years, the NFL has begun to implement female coaches. In 2021, they had a league-high 12 female coaches. They also now have a handful of female referees. Along with women on the field and in the facility, the NFL’s media has also seen an increase in female reporters and journalists. These women have all seen doors opened for them in football by two of the most influential women in the league thus far, Amy Trask and Erin Andrews.
Amy Trask was the NFL’s first female CEO. She became the CEO of the Oakland Raiders in 1997, a position she held until her retirement in 2013. Trask served as Al Davis’ right-hand lady for decades as she changed the world of football as we know it.
“I’m asked all the time if I was tested because I’m a woman. The answer is, we’re all tested all the time. Whether it’s because of our gender, our race, our ethnicity, our age, our seniority, our educational background – we’re tested all the time. Well, what’s the best answer when you’re tested? Pass the damn test.” Trask told SBNation. She showed women everywhere that your input, your dreams, and your skills are valuable, especially in a sport that consists of thousands of men.
Erin Andrews has followed Amy Trask’s lead as one of the most influential women in football. She has risen through the ranks of sports reporting since 2004, and she is now the lead sideline reporter for Fox Sports NFL broadcasting team.
Andrews has inspired hundreds of other sports reporters and women to chase their dreams, and now the NFL embraces the talent of many female football journalists and reporters.
Women like NFL Network’s Colleen Wolfe, Erica Tamposi, Cynthia Frelund, and Rachel Bonetta, CBS Sports’ Aditi Kinkhabwala, ESPN’s Dianna Russini, and many, many more women have broken down barriers. They show each day how important women are to the world of football, and they have opened countless doors. The NFL, as we know it, is headed in a new direction; a direction filled with female input on the sidelines, in the facility, and in front of the camera.
Inspiring change in soccer
One of the biggest stories in sports recently has been the settlement of a gender discrimination lawsuit in soccer. On February 22,2022, U.S. Soccer and the Women’s Players agreed to settle a lawsuit that has been active since 2016.
The terms of the agreement have finally equalized pay for men’s and women’s national soccer teams. This change was led by the hands of the US Women’s National Team’s own public figure and trailblazer, Megan Rapinoe.
Rapinoe has long been one of the best women’s soccer players in the country. She has led her team to two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal. Her on-field accomplishments are only surpassed by one thing: her world-changing activism.
She stands proudly for racial and gender equality, leading the charge for women everywhere. Her latest accomplishment on equal pay for women marks the beginning of a new era in major league soccer.
It’s impossible to explain the impact these women have had on the world of sports and sports media. Each day they show a male-dominated industry why their talents are more than valuable, they’re necessary. They serve as role models for women and girls everywhere, because if you see it, you can be it.
This Women’s History Month, take the time to recognize the women in sports that have impacted your favorite team. Spend time speaking on and celebrating the changes they’ve made and the glass ceilings they’ve shattered. This month, take the time to encourage the women in your life to follow their wildest dreams. They are destined to change the world thanks to the help of those that have come before them.