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Women’s Sports Foundation Salutes Female Athletes Everywhere

By Kathryn Maloney

On October 13, the Women’s Sports Foundation held its annual salute to women’s sports, honoring and celebrating female athletes everywhere. According to its website, the Women’s Sports Foundation exists “to unlock the possibilities in every girl and woman through the power of sport.” This virtual live broadcast event was built to inspire millions to embrace the power sport provides and join the movement towards equality.

The event was hosted by softball legend and MLB analyst Jessica Mendoza. Many notable guests were featured, including WSF Founder Billie Jean King, Phaidra Knight, Meghan Duggan, Jordan Larson, Kaleo Maclay, Joe Torre, Julie Foudy, Tara VanDerveer, and Allyson Felix. This year’s honorees included Naomi Osaka, Larry Scott, and Kim Ng.

The event began by highlighting the hardships women face as mothers participating in professional sports. Allyson Felix was a huge advocate for this, noting “I hope women are able to have their own decision when they want to start families and that they’ll be supported no matter what.” With Athleta, the WSF created the Power of She Fund to help support these female athletes.  

The first honoree of the night was Kim Ng. As the first female and Asian-American general manager in the MLB, Ng has broken down many barriers. Being honored with the Billie Jean King Leadership Award

“I think we’re seeing a nice ground swell of pure numbers of women in the entry-level,” Ng said. “But I do think there needs to be other skills.”

Ng was honored to receive this award and seemed optimistic about the future of women in baseball while also noting that changes still need to be made.

The next award presented was the Champion for Equality Award. Larry Scott, the former commissioner of the Pac-12 conference, has helped lift women up in the sports world. Scott has shown an unwavering commitment to equality in sports and has always believed that sport has the power to make positive change. Scott credited his mom with inspiring him to be an advocate for women in sports.

“My hope is that women’s sports continue to be valued at the intercollegiate level,” Scott said when asked about his hopes for the future of NCAA sports.

Naomi Osaka was honored with the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. The WSF highlighted her contributions to racial justice and mental health this past year. 

“I got the courage to speak up from all the people around me doing amazing things,” Osaka said. “Not having any fear and standing up for what they believe in.” 

After being open with her struggles and winning the US Open in 2020, Osaka was honored to receive this award.

The event continued with a nod to Allyson Felix, who was given the Individual Sportswoman of the Year Award. Taking home a Gold and Bronze medal at the Olympics while being a mom is no easy task. Felix noted how being a mother increased her motivation and said there is nothing else like it. 

“This is a highlight for me,” Felix said when accepting the award. 

The Sportswoman of the Year Team Award went to volleyball player Jordan Larson. This past year, Larson led the women’s volleyball team to Gold at the Tokyo Olympics. 

“I’m proud to represent Team USA at the highest level,” Larson said, noting how humbled she was to receive this award. “I think all the teams before us and players really paved the path and I’m really grateful.”

The event certainly helped to lift the voices and accomplishments of women in sports. The WSF has served as a crucial source in giving women power in sport and beyond. With their continued efforts, issues in women’s sports will continue to be addressed and positive change will come as a result.

Photo Credit: Instagram, Pexels

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