The Rise of Women Empowerment in Sports


Joe Kaplan, Staff Writer

It was Dec. 12, 2020. Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller trotted onto the football field decked out in her football pads ready to attempt an extra point against Tennessee after her team scored a touchdown. As soon as her cleat touched the leather of the football, the crowd erupted. In that moment, when the ball went straight through the goalposts, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score in a Power 5 college football game. 


Moments like these have occurred throughout the past few years — time and time again we have seen inspirational female athletes defy all odds and become a part of history. 


We saw tennis icon Naomi Osaka win the US Open two out of three years and then saw what she can bring off the court as well. By wearing masks that read Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, Osaka impacts society before she even steps onto the court. 


This is the era of female empowerment. 


Scotch Plains-Fanwood tennis star Anna Szczuka talked about who her favorite tennis player was and how she has impacted her as a player.


“My favorite tennis player is Petra Kvitova because I love her dedication,” Szczuka said. “She brings incredible inspiration to the court, has a fighting spirit and she gave me an autograph at the US Open when I was 7.”


Many coaches at SPFHS for women’s sports have seen the effect these positive influences have had on their players.


SPF Girls Soccer Coach Kevin Ewing talked about the positive influence on inspirational women in sports today. 


“I think it is great that women have been so impactful lately,” Coach Ewing said. “I think that women’s impact in sports has been evolving for quite some time. Current women making accomplishments will just inspire young girls to reach for their goals.” 


Coach Ewing talked about how there has been improvement with gender equality in sports, but much more is to be taken care of. 


“I think it has improved over the years,” Ewing said. “However there is room for improvement in areas of equal pay in some areas of sport, unfortunately it is very difficult to create that scenario. Women like the US women’s national soccer team need to keep fighting for what they feel is right.”


Right after the US women’s soccer team won the world cup back in 2019, chants of equal pay spread throughout the streets of New York. Right before the World Cup, the USWNT filed for a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation back in March 2019. 


On May 1, 2020, the USWNT suffered a heartbreaker. Federal Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled in favor of the U.S. Soccer Federation rather than the USWNT about Equal Pay for both men and women. Klausner believed that there were to be no issues regarding pay and that there was no reason to increase their pay rate. 


The team continues to fight. Players such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan will continue to shed light on this issue and find ways to promote equal play amongst all athletes. 


SPF Field Hockey Coach Alexandra Neidig weighed in as well to discuss the importance of the rise of gender equality in sports. 


“I think it’s absolutely fantastic,” Neidig said. “For a long time women have been looked over in the world of sports. This has caused many female athletes to feel unappreciated and rightfully so!” 


She later talked about the takeaways from the rise of gender equality in sports these days.  


Oh this has already impacted my players,” Neidig said.“Field hockey, to begin with, is a very overlooked sport. We took a bunch of young ladies and taught them how to play a sport they’ve never played before only five years ago. My players continue to be impacted by all the amazing female athletes that have come through SPF and I encourage them to use female athletes as role models to strive to always be the best versions of themselves.”


The fight is nowhere near over. Gender inequality remains prevalent throughout sports, but seeing female influences in all sports is a positive sign for a more equal future. Gender inequality in sports won’t be solved tomorrow, however, the signs of women creating an impact in sports is very encouraging.