Kaylen Buschhorn takes us through a quick recap of some of the best moments from 2020 for women in sports!
WNBA Orange: A Fashion Trend
WNBA orange was the predominant sports fashion trend in 2020. Not only was it the best selling merchandise item in WNBA history, but the sweatshirt also became a popular pregame outfit across many professional sports leagues. Many sports stars could be seen rocking the orange including The NFL’s Russell Wilson, and the NBA’s LeBron James, Chris Paul, and many more players within the NBA Bubble.
As she was packing up to go home for Thanksgiving, after winning the SEC championship for women’s soccer, Sarah Fuller received a call that would change her life. That Monday in November Sarah became a dual-sport athlete. The Vanderbilt football team was in need of a placekicker with all their specialist dealing with COVID-19 protocols. Sarah became the first woman to play in a power 5 football game. She finished her football career with a point after touchdown kick and a kickoff. Fuller took this opportunity to encourage young girls to go after their dreams, partnering with the Nashville based nonprofit ‘Play Like A Girl’. That phrase could be seen as a sticker on the back of her helmet in both of her appearances on the football field.
The Year Of The Advocate
During 2020 many athletes spoke up and spoke out. On the field, the court, and on social media athletes used their voices to fight for social justice. In July the WNBA players dedicated their season to Breonna Taylor and the Say Her Name campaign. All WNBA players wore Breonna Taylor’s name on their jersey’s throughout the season in the “Wubble”. In addition to the dedication, the WNBA also introduced their Social Justice Council comprised of players and activists to push conversations surrounding social justice issues further. Multiple other WNBA players chose to forgo the season this past summer entirely to fight against social injustice. Natasha Cloud and Maya Moore were two of the players to forgo this season. Maya focused on criminal justice reform, she even helped to overturn the 50-year prison sentence for a man who was wrongfully convicted. Natasha continued to “fight on the front lines for social reform” as she announced on her Instagram in late June.
Say this year was successful for Sue Bird would be an understatement. In 2020 Sue Bird clinched her 4th WNBA championships title during her 20th season with the Seattle Storm. With this fourth title, she became the first and only player in the WNBA to hold titles in 3 different decades (2004, 2010, 2018, 2020). Also, she became the second-oldest player to win a WNBA title just a week shy of her 40th birthday.
You could say that the spark is still alive in Seattle for Sue Bird.
Women Of The NFL
2020 was a huge year for women working in the NFL.
In February, the world watched as the San Francisco 49ers took on the Kansas City Chiefs. Katie Sowers, an offensive assistant for the 49ers, became the first woman to coach for an NFL team in the super bowl.
In September, for the first time in NFL history, three women could be seen on the field. During the regular-season game between the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Football Team, there was a female coach on each sideline and one as an official calling the game. Sarah Thomas, Callie Brownson, and Jennifer King were no strangers to breaking the glass ceiling and continue to inspire young women with their work in the NFL.
Women In Sports
In 2020 we saw an increase of #WomenInSports on social media.
As the senior manager of content for the NFL, AJ Curry was in a unique position this season. She found new ways to engage her audience and inspire women in the sports industry. Her personal Tik Tok blew up after she posted “a 30-second trailer of (her) job on the NFL social team”. Curry posted the tik tok on November 30th and since then it has amassed 1.1 million views and she has gained over 40,000 followers on her account. She continues to post day in the life and NFL based videos. She has also continued to bring awareness to the new showtime cam in the NFL. I can’t talk about AJ without mentioning her intense love for sneakers and the wonderful collection of Jordan’s she showcases on her Instagram (@aj_curry ).
In July 2020, Sydney Large, a social media manager for Opendorse, founded Support Women in Sports “a community built for women in sports and supporters of women sports”. Support Women in Sports has grown to include a podcast that has featured female guest activity working in the sports industry. She has even created a very successful merchandise line of the Twitter movement #SupportWomenInSports. Including sweatshirts, shirts, and even stickers many of which have sold out. Along with her company, Sydney has built up her community through her personal Twitter account @sydlarge18. Sydney has brought together aspiring and current sports industry professionals in a Social Media Meetup Group. She continues to inspire women in the sports industry as well as those who are just stepping into it.
In 2020, Victoria Garrick took the social media world by storm. She has created a movement with #RealPost and is an advocate for mental health and body positivity. Her tik tok account has amassed over 36.6M likes and 632.5K followers. She also founded The Hidden Opponent, a nonprofit aimed to create a community for student-athletes facing mental health struggles. Along with the help of Leeann Passaro, Victoria launched the Campus Captains program. This program features over 400 student ambassadors across the United States, who help to spread the work that The Hidden Opponent is doing to better the mental health of student-athletes. In addition to Hidden Opponent Victoria also hosts a podcast called Real Pod to discuss mental health, eating disorders, and life. She sits down with inspiration guests such as Kerri Walsh Jennings, Katelyn Ohashi, Carli Lloyd, and Dr. Michael Gervais just to name a few. Victoria has helped many athletes this year discover that they are more than just the sport they play but that they have a larger impact off the field.
USWNT Stars Overseas
With the pandemic, we saw an increase in US Women’s Nation Soccer Team Athletes playing overseas. Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle joined Manchester City, Tobin Heath and Christen Press played for Manchester United, and new mom Alex Morgan played for Tottenham Hotspur with her daughter Charlie watching from the sidelines.
Women Of The MLB
2020 was a year of growth with the number of women working in the MLB. In July, we saw the first woman coach in a Major League Baseball game as Alyssa Nakken took the field as the first base coach in an expedition game against the Oakland Athletics. In November, Kim Ng made history when the Miami Marlins hired her as the ball club’s general manager. Ng is the highest-ranking woman among all 30 teams and is the first female manager of a North American professional men’s sports team. As of today, December 31, 2020, the Boston Red Sox have hired Bianca Smith as a minor league coach. With this hire, Smith becomes the first woman of color to coach pro baseball in the history of the sport.
Women’s Sports Bubbles
Women’s sports bubble were the first instances of success during the pandemic. this summer the NWSL the first major sports league to have a successful bubbled tournament with no cases of Coronavirus. Followed shortly after by the WNBA’s bubble that was coined the “Wubble”. The bubbles created by these two leagues gave us women’s sports back and entertained millions. Both the WNBA and NWSL’s viewership numbers hit record highs. Many new fans were introduced to the two leagues I creasing both their growth and popularity in the sports world as a whole.
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