Top 10 milestones women in sport reached in 2020

This has been an interesting year for everyone. But despite having to deal with a global pandemic there were still a number of ground-breaking and historic moments for women in sport. 

In no particular order, here are 10 of 2020’s inspirational moments featuring women in sport:

Chicago Blackhawks hire Kendall Coyne Schofield

Olympic champion and U.S. national team captain Kendall Coyne Schofield was hired as the first female player development coach for the NHL for the Chicago Blackhawks. She will also serve as a youth hockey growth specialist and assist the Rockford Icehogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, in the development skills of the current players while assessing, evaluating and scouting potential prospects. 

Sarah Fuller is the first woman to play in a Power Five college football game

Sarah Fuller, goalkeeper for Vanderbilt University’s soccer team makes history and becomes the first woman to take the field in a Power Five conference. Fuller took the opening kickoff in the third quarter against the Mizzou Tigers of the University of Missouri. Fuller wore the message, “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet. Before the game Fuller told Vanderbilt, “I think it’s amazing and incredible. But I’m also trying to separate that because I know this is a job I need to do and I want to help the team out and I want to do the best that I can. Placing that historical aspect aside just helps me focus in on what I need to do. I don’t want to let them down in any way.”

Kim Ng is MLB’s first female and first Asian-American GM

The Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng, making her the first female and Asian-American general manager in MLB. She is also the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations in MLB. Ng started as an intern in MLB. She joined the New York Yankees after working for one year with the American League, making her the youngest assistant general manager in MLB at 29.  She was also vice-president and assistant general manager to the Los Angeles Dodgers after contributing to three World Series Championships with the Yankees.

Emily Harrington free climbs El Capitan in one day

Harrington made history as the first woman to climb Yosemite National Park’s El Captain using the challenging route, the Golden Gate, in one day. She attempted the same climb last year and fell four stories. Harrington told the San Francisco Chronicle that she wanted to be the first woman to accomplish this goal: “I spent a lot of years feeling like I didn’t belong, like maybe I hadn’t earned my place to be a Yosemite climber […] But throughout this experience I learned that there is no belonging or not belonging, no formula to achievement up there.” 

Emily Harrington free climbs El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

Katie Sowers is the first woman to coach the Super Bowl

Sowers, 49ers offensive assistant coach, who led the United States to a gold medal in the Women’s World Championship in 2013, became the first female and first openly gay person to coach in the Super Bowl. When Sowers was attending Goshen College in Indiana, she was turned down for the position as a volunteer assistant coach on the women’s basketball team because of her sexual orientation. She played in the Women’s Football Alliance for eight years. 

Falcons 49ers Football
Courtesy of Forbes

Florence Schelling becomes first female GM in for a top level club in men’s pro hockey

Schelling, former swiss women’s goalie and four-time Olympian, was hired by SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League as general manager. She played in three world championships for Switzerland and was considered one of the best goaltenders in the world during her playing career. Schelling has also coached Switzerland’s U-18 women’s team.

Courtesy of Sportsnet

WNBA announces new maternity leave policy

The WNBA announced a ground-breaking collective bargaining agreement that will guarantee players full paid maternity leave, an increase in salaries, improved travel arrangements and marketing for the league. Players will be eligible for housing assistance and a childcare stipend with the average WNBA player earning a six-figure salary. Previously, many professional women’s athletes had to choose their career over having children out of fear of losing what they have worked so hard for.

Tim Horton’s and Barbie team up to inspire girls

Tim Horton’s Hockey Barbie makes the commitment to support girls and encourage them to be whatever they want to be and pursue their dreams. All the proceeds from the dolls sold at participating Tim Hortons locations go to the Hockey Canada Foundation and the Hockey is Hers Initiative. The partnership recognizes Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Nurse, two Canadian women who have broken many barriers in hockey.

Adidas and Nike drop first maternity activewear collection

This is Adidas’ first maternity wear collection that aims to support women through pre and post-natal life. Nike also launched their own maternity sportswear collection that is designed to suit all stages of pregnancy. They have also introduced a sports bra designed to allow wearers to breastfeed. Both of these maternity collections support women’s relationship with sport and fitness during their journey of motherhood.

Courtesy of static.standard.co.uk

Three women make history in an NFL game

The game between the Washington Football Team and the Cleveland Browns made history in the NFL with having a female referee on the field and a female coach on each sideline. To have Callie Brownson, Browns Chief; Jennifer King, full year coaching intern for Washington and NFL official, and Sarah Thomas featured, opportunities like this mean a lot  to women’s sports and hopefully there are more historic moments like this for gender equality in sports.

Featured photo: Sarah Fuller, first female to play in Power Five football game. (Courtesy of Vanderbilt University.)

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