National Girls and Women in Sports Day is celebrated today. It serves as a symbol of the continuous fight for equality in sports each day. It was recognized as a holiday in 1987 in honor of Flo Hyman, an Olympic volleyball player, who was considered the best to ever do it, all while speaking up on behalf of women everywhere for equal access and representation in all sports.
While gender stereotypes still exist in sports today, huge strides have been made by exceptional girls and women around the world to break down those barriers and even the playing field. The enactment of the civil rights law, Title IX, was an important step toward legal backing of equal opportunity for women to participate in sports at federally funded institutions. Today, we are highlighting just a few of those barrier-breaking women and their accomplishments in sports.
Missy Franklin – five-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer
Missy Franklin made history in several categories across college, professional, and Olympic swimming; she notably turned down prize money during her college years to continue to perform as a collegiate athlete.
Megan Rapinoe – Professional Soccer Player and Social Justice Advocate
Megan Rapinoe is a three-time Olympic gold medalist for women’s soccer, a National Champion, and a fierce advocate for equal pay for women in professional sports, racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and gender equity.
Helene Britton – owner, St. Louis Cardinals MLB team
Helene became the first female owner of a major league baseball team (the St.Louis Cardinals) on March 28, 1911.
Sarah Thomas – NFL Official
Sarah Thomas made history as the first woman hired as an NFL official in 2015. She has since made history again as the first woman to ref an on-field playoff game for the NFL.
Alyssa Nakken – Coach, San Francisco 49ers MLB team
Alyssa Nakken became the first female on-field coach for an MLB team in 2021, making history as the first woman to hold this position.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee – Heptathlon and Long Jump Track and Field Athlete
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and an advocate for “Athletes for Hope” which encourages athletes to make a difference in the world.
Kim Ng – General Manager, Miami Marlins MLB team
Kim Ng was hired as the General Manager of the Miami Marlins in 2020, making history as the first woman to hold a GM position in MLB.
Beth Mowins – the first woman to call an NFL game
Beth Mowins made history as the first woman to call a televised National Football League game. Today she covers a multitude of sports as a broadcaster and has done so throughout her decorated career.
Kathryn Smith – Buffalo Bills Special Teams coach
Kathryn Smith made history in 2016 when she was hired by the Buffalo Bills as a full-time quality control special teams coach.
Pat Summitt – Legendary Tennessee Vols Head Women’s Basketball Coach
Pat Summitt made history as the winningest basketball coach of all time (2016) of the UT Women’s Basketball team. She passed away due to Alzheimer’s disease in 2016.
Billie Jean King – record-setting Tennis player, equal pay and LGBTQ+ advocate
Billie Jean King is a storied tennis athlete with 20 Wimbledon championships. More than that, she was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work in advocating for equal pay for female athletes and for her work in advocating for the LGBTQ+ community.
Jennie Finch – Team USA Softball Olympic Pitcher
Jennie Finch is a historic figure in the game of softball, with an NCAA record of 60 consecutive wins at the University of Arizona. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and an advocate for young girls in sports through her two-day skills camps. Jennie is also an EGFL alumna, who joined us as a keynote speaker for our 1st Annual Empowering Girls event!
Mia Hamm – U.S. Women’s Soccer Leading Scorer
Mia Hamm started with the U.S. National team at the age of 15 (the youngest player to ever do so). She won U.S. Women’s Athlete of the Year five times and was the first woman inducted into the World Hall of Fame.
Dot Richardson – youngest softball player in the ASA Women’s Major Fastpitch National Championships
Dot Richardson made history at 13 years old as the youngest player in the ASA Women’s Major Fastpitch National Championships. She was awarded NCAA Player of the Decade in the 1980s; post-softball, she worked as an orthopedic surgeon.
Mo’ne Davis – Little League Baseball shutout pitcher
Mo’ne Davis was the first girl to pitch a shutout and win a game in the Little League World Series in 2014.
Simone Biles – most decorated U.S. Gymnastics athlete in history
Simone Biles has 25 Championship medals, with 19 of them being Gold medals. She has two moves named after her (Biles I, Biles II) that have only ever been landed by her.
Jessica Mendoza – U.S. Olympic medalist in softball, ESPN broadcaster
Jessica Mendoza won a Gold and Silver medal in the Olympics as a softball player for the U.S. In 2020, she became the first woman to be a game analyst for the MLB World Series, as well as the first woman to serve as an ESPN game analyst for MLB on national TV. Jessica is also an EGFL alumna!
Lia Thomas – the first transgender NCAA Division 1 Champion swimmer
Lia Thomas has been a voice for transgender athletes after winning the NCAA Division I National Swimming Championship (500-yard freestyle) for Penn State University.
There is not enough room on this post to highlight all of the incredible women who have made a lasting impact on the future of girls and women in sports. And while great strides have been made, there is always more to be done. Be sure to check out our social media pages for more National Girls and Women in Sports Day content!