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  • Writer's picture The Vindicator

A Moment in the Spotlight

A highlight of some of the best female athletes and coaches.

Written by Jake Ryan

Oftentimes when we hear about the world of sports, the discussions are one-sided. The primary focus falls on male athletes’ accolades and contributions to the various games they play, while (more often than not) female athletes are reserved for quick shout-outs or a news ticker on the bottom of the screen. A lot of the time, female athletes aren’t given their fair dues, even when performing at just as high if not a higher level compared to their male counterparts. This Women’s History Month, take the time to learn about some of the greatest female athletes in American sports history 

Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Hop in a time machine back to 1932: a time before modern technology and even before they invented color. The world was in black and white and dinosaurs may have still been roaming the Earth, and Babe Didriskon Zaharias qualified for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In her Olympic debut, she won multiple gold medals and set two world records. In the years that followed, Zaharias became a master golfer. Over her career, she won 82 tournaments and even won the US Women’s Open a few months following surgery for cancer treatment. She  unfortunately succumbed to her illness — but not before leaving a legacy of success behind her. (via the National Women’s History Museum)

Billie Jean King

To say Billie Jean King is a pioneer would be an understatement. For over 40 years she has been a champion of women’s rights and gender equality on and off the court. Athletically her crowning achievement came against Bobby Riggs in 1973. “The Battle of the Sexes” cemented not only her legacy as one of the best tennis players ever, but also helped usher in a new age of female athletes. The world received her message, loud and clear.. 

Caitlin Clark

Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is the best current basketball player at the college level. She has been the driving force of a dominant Iowa basketball team for the last four years. She has broken multiple records, including school records such as career points scored, and has set records across both men's and women’s basketball. She earned her most impressive stat February 15 this year, when she broke the record for all-time highest  score in NCAA women’s basketball. 

Tara VanDerveer

Tara VanDerveer is the current head coach of the Stanford women’s basketball team. She has been with the team for nearly 40 years, starting out as a coach for the school in 1985. Since then, she has won multiple championships for the Cardinals and broken numerous coaching records. Her most illustrious achievement is  her all-time win record. She has the most wins by any coach in NCAA basketball history. Not just women’s basketball — college basketball. As of writing, she has a career record of 1,208-268. (Stanford Athletics)

Dawn Staley

Sticking with college basketball, Dawn Staley is the current head coach of the University of South Carolina and a former professional player. As a player, she was a seven-time WNBA All-Star and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. As a coach, she has turned the South Carolina women’s team into arguably the toughest team in the nation. At the time of this writing,  the Gamecocks are a perfect 23-0 on the season with no signs of slowing down. In her tenure, she has also coached the team to two national championship wins in 2017 and 2022. (University of South Carolina Athletics)

"...female athletes aren’t given their fair dues, even when performing at just as high if not a higher level compared to their male counterparts."

Katie Ledecky

If you look at a list of Katie Ledecky’s records and achievements you think you’d be looking at the stats of a custom character in an Olympics-themed video game. Ledecky is quite literally the final boss of swimming. Since her debut in the 2012 London Olympics, she has amassed 28 gold and eight silver medals over her three appearances in the games, as well as various world championships. She holds, essentially, every record. There are so many they can’t even be listed. She’s broken 53 total, including 16 world and 37 American records. (Olympics) (Katie Ledecky Swim)

Williams Sisters

When you think of tennis, especially American tennis, you think of Venus and Serena Williams. Both sisters went pro at around 14 years of age and took over the world stage. Serena was the more prominent of the two siblings with 23 Grand Slam Singles titles, the most in the current era. Many of those victories came against her sister Venus. Talk about a sibling rivalry. However, sometimes that rivalry turned into victory when the sisters would team up. As a duo, they won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. Venus herself won the 2000 Olympics Gold medal for singles and doubles (winning the doubles gold with her sister, of course). Venus has consistently been in top tournament play throughout the course of her career. (Britannica) 

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

People care about soccer in the US in only two cases: because it’s the World Cup, or because they just so happen to be an MLS fan. A bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. The best finish the U.S. men’s team has ever had in the World Cup was third place … in 1930. The women’s team, on the other hand, is one of the most dominant and successful national teams in soccer. They’ve racked up multiple Olympic Gold medals and four World Cups, including back-to-back championships between 2015 and 2019. (US Soccer)


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