🏈Who run the world?
From agents to coaches, 2019 and 2020 proved that women indisputably have a place on the bench and behind the scenes in sports.
- Let’s start with Baylor Lady Bears college head coach (and fashionista) Kim Mulkey. In February 2020, she became the fastest D1 basketball coach — as you know by now, male or female — to reach 600 wins. And get this, she did it in just 700 games.
- Now let’s switch gears and talk football. At the beginning of February 2020, the Washington who must not be named’s hired Jennifer King as an assistant coach, which made her the first full-time Black female coach in the NFL. ’Bout time, no?
- Sticking with the NFL, despite her San Francisco 49ers squad losing the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs, offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers became the first woman and openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.
- Baseball also got in on the fun. In January 2020, Alyssa Nakken was hired by the San Francisco Giants as the first female full-time coach in MLB history. Hey batter, batter, batter.
- ICYMI the NHL is expanding to Seattle in October and we’re already big fans of the franchise. In September 2019, they hired former Team USA captain, gold medalist and Hockey Hall of Famer Cami Granato as one of the team’s full-time scouts, making her the first female pro-scout in NHL history.
🤸Breaking records and taking names
t’s been a stellar 14 months for women on the field and the fans supporting them. Our favorite moments?
- We can’t have an IWD email and not talk about college basketball player Sabrina Ionescu (pronounced YOH-NESS-COO). Just last month, this Oregon Duck senior solidified herself as the best collegiate basketball athlete of all time when she became the first NCAA player — yes male or female — to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. What, like it’s hard?
- And then there’s Christine Sinclair. At the end of January 2020, this humble and tenacious leader of the Canadian women’s national soccer team (CANWNT) became the all-time leading goal scorer — again, male or female — in international soccer history. Forget “Bend it like Beckham,” let’s “Bend it like Sinclair.”
- Women’s hockey also got in on the fun. For the final game of the Rivalry Series between Team USA and Team Canada, a record 13,320 fans filled the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, the most for a U.S. women’s hockey game played on home soil.
- How could we talk about women killing it and not talk about American gymnast Simone Biles? In October 2019, Biles became the most decorated gymnast — we repeat, male or female — at the World Championships winning an all-time record of 25 world medals, including 19 golds. Just imagine what her trophy case looks like.
🏀Picking up the pieces
NBA: Zion Williamson is still in #BeastMode. The New Orleans Pelicans’ No. 1 draft pick and Rookie of the Year contender put up 21 points against Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks last night. Despite losing in overtime, Zion has now gone thirteen straight games with 20+ points, the only teenager to ever do that. When we were teens we were that productive too…
NHL: Scary news alert. On Tuesday night, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk took a skate to the face (luckily it avoided his eye) and it took 90 stitches (!!!) to sew him back up.
- While catastrophic facial injuries happen less often than you’d think in a sport where players strap blades to their feet and fly around the ice at 20 miles an hour, the risk is always there. Take Taylor Hall’s skate to the forehead. Might be time to revisit the cage argument?
Crosby: In much lighter hockey news, Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby finally crossed the 800 career assist mark in a 7–3 blowout win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. He got there in 980 games, making him the sixth-fastest player in NHL history to do so, and it couldn’t have come at a better time — “Sid the Kid” helped snap the Pens’ longest losing streak in more than eight years at six games. Whoa!
⚽Man, I feel like a woman
The GIST: We’re here for any and all reasons to fangirl over our US Women’s National Soccer team. And this year’s SheBelieves Cup is the perfect excuse.
The SheBelieves Cup?: Yes. Since 2016, the US has been hosting this annual tournament between some of the top teams in the world. And this year, we’ve invited No. 6 England, No. 10 Japan and No. 13 Spain to join in on the fun. The tournament kicks off today and runs until March 11th.
Cool. What’s it for?: The Cup is meant to help the women’s teams practice for major tournaments (think the Olympics or the World Cup) by mimicking the atmosphere of those events. From the traveling to the trophy awarded at the end, the exhibition is just as rigorous as any other international tournament they compete in. Intense, right?
And how’s our USWNT looking?: Always good. After winning the 2019 FIFA World Cup and the recent CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, we’re not too concerned. And, to make matters better, we’ve previously won two Triwizard SheBelieves Cups, so we’re feeling pretty confident about this one.
🏀Bring it on
The GIST: We’ve made it to March. But before the notorious March Madness officially begins on March 17th, there are conference tournaments to play.
Hold on, what tournaments?: The road to March Madness begins with Championship Week, when men’s and women’s teams across all 32 (!!!) Division I conferences duke it out to become tournament champions. And while results don’t fully decide the participants or seeding for March Madness, the winners from each conference secure an automatic berth. Pressure’s on.
- The conference championships run right up to Selection Sunday on March 15th, when a committee will evaluate each squad’s regular and tournament performances before deciding which teams have done enough to earn a spot. Not, not anxiety-inducing.
Got it. So what should we expect?: The women’s tournament began Tuesday, and all eyes are on the high-major conferences like the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big 10, ACC and AAC. And we’re expecting the top teams from each conference — South Carolina, Baylor, Oregon, Maryland, Louisville and UConn, respectively — to survive the weekend. Meanwhile, the men’s regular season wraps up this weekend with their conference tournaments starting on March 9th.
- But one school will have to wait a bit longer to start playing: Chicago State canceled two women’s and men’s games against West Coast teams due to COVID-19, the first cancellations in an American sports league.
Any other news?: You bet. Our fave generational talent, No. 3 Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu (pronounced YOH-NESS-COO), tallied her ninth double-double in the final regular season game of her college career, before sharing a heartfelt speech in front of a sold-out crowd.
- And get this. When Sabrina started at Oregon, the average attendance of women’s basketball games was 2,595. Now it’s 11,588. She’s got the power.