Unprecedented women in unprecedented times

2020 has been a doozy. Am I right, my friends? The science tells us that we have a tendency to remember more bad stuff than good stuff. And if we are being real about 2020, the significant overuse of the word “unprecedented” is on the end of a very long list of obstacles we faced in the last year.

So before it’s too late, let us flood our memories with a few INCREDIBLE accomplishments that women have made in sport this year and take a moment to bask in the glory of our gender.

February 2, 2020: Katie Sowers – current full-time assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers; previous player in the Women’s Football Alliance and a member of the United States Women’s National American Football Team, winning the IFAF Women’s World Championship in 2013 – became the first openly gay and first female coach in Super Bowl history.

September 5, 2020: Emily Zaler – current assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Broncos; previously worked with the New York Nicks and University of California San Diego – became the first full-time female coach under contract with the Broncos.

September 27, 2020: Washington vs. Browns game. First NFL game in history to see a female coach on each sideline and a female official. Jennifer King – first full-season African American female coach in the NFL and first for Washington; 7-time All American quarterback and wide receiver for the Women’s Football Alliance. Callie Brownson – currently coaches for the Browns; previously coached at Dartmouth and played in the Women’s Football Alliance. Sarah Thomas – first female NFL official and first woman to officiate an NFL game.

September 30, 2020: Doris Burke – current NBA sports announcer, analyst, and Basketball Hall of Famer; previous WNBA analyst and DI NCAA basketball player – became the first woman to call NBA conference finals and NBA Finals games on the radio.

October 6, 2020: Sue Bird – current professional basketball player for the Seattle Storm of the WNBA – won her fourth WNBA Championship title. In addition to four Olympic gold medals, two NCAA Championships and four FIBA World Cups, this made Bird one of only 11 women to ever attain all four of these accolades.

October 11, 2020: Jeanie Buss – controlling owner and president of the LA Lakers – became the first female controlling owner to win an NBA championship.

October 20, 2020: Jessica Mendoza – current sports broadcaster for ESPN; former collegiate 4-time First Team All-American, 2-time Olympic medal winner; retired pro All-Star softball outfielder – became the first female analyst in World Series history.

November 11, 2020: Emily Engel-Natzke – current video coach for the Hershy Bears of the American Hockey League; previously part of the World Champion staff for the U18 team in Russia (2018) and the Senior Women’s League in Finland – became the first female assistant coach in the Washington Capitals organization.

November 13, 2020: Kim Ng – current general manager of the Miami Marlins; youngest person and first female to present and win a salary arbitration case in the major leagues (White Sox), youngest assistant GM in the major leagues (Yankees) and only one of four women to ever hold the position; previous softball player and MVP infielder for the University of Chicago – became the first woman to serve as a GM of a team in the Big Four leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) in North America and the first person of East Asian descent to serve as GM of an MLB team.

November 16, 2020: Teresa Weatherspoon – current NBA coach and Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer; former WNBA player, voted in the Top 15 players in WNBA history – was promoted to assistant coach for the New Orleans Pelicans and became the eighth full-time female assistant coach in the NBA.

November 28, 2020: Sarah Fuller – recent graduate transfer to North Texas for soccer; previous football placekicker and soccer goalkeeper for Vanderbilt – became the first woman to play for a Power Five conference team in the Vanderbilt vs. Missouri game.

December 12, 2020: Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score points in a Power Five college football game during Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee.

December 30, 2020: Becky Hammon – current NBA coach; former WNBA player, 3-time All-American NCAA DI player, 2-time Olympic Games player and 1-time Olympic medal winner – became the first female acting head coach in NBA history.

These incredible women, among so many others, are absolutely shattering the glass ceiling that has been hovering over women and minorities in sport since the dawn of competition. Sitting down and taking time to compile this list and read about what these women have experienced and how they have attained such miraculous achievements in a male-dominated sport culture made me feel so proud and filled me with hope.

Powerful moments like these are where we should focus our energy and our memory of this last year. Reflecting, learning, and growing from the pain many of us experienced while having gratitude and pride for what we have still managed to accomplish through challenging times.

Cheers to 2021, my friends. And to unprecedented women doing unprecedented things in unprecedented places for as long as we all shall live.

Image by Browns Twitter/ http://www.twitter.com.

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