Influential women in sports

By: Isabelle Baidoo and Greta Johnson

Over the years, women in sports have been constantly underestimated. So, for women’s history month we wanted to talk about 2 influential women who were dominant in their respective sports. We chose Megan Rapinoe who plays soccer on the US Women’s National Team and Mikaela Shiffrin, who is a successful alpine racer.

Mikaela Shiffrin

At the age of 15, Mikaela started racing on the World Cup circuit. She was the youngest ski racer in American history to compete on the FIS circuit. This came after she had been skiing for most of her life, and had also attended Burke Mountain Academy, which is a ski racing academy in Vermont.

Just a few weeks after her 16th birthday, Mikeala won her first World Cup race. It was only her first season racing the circuit.

After 2 more seasons of competing in the World Cup she went to her first Olympics and ended up winning a gold medal in slalom making her the youngest slalom gold medal winner in American history.

After 13 seasons racing in the World Cup, Mikeala has 88 wins combined. That makes her the most decorated racer in the world at only 28. She’s been to 3 Olympics, has 3 Olympic medals, and is the most successful racer in American history.

Sadly, in February of 2020, Mikeala’s father Jeff unexpectedly passed. He suffered a severe head injury in the family’s home in Colorado. He was 65. This devastated the Shiffrin family.

“My family is heartbroken beyond comprehension about the unexpected passing of my kindhearted, loving, caring, patient, wonderful father. Our mountains, our ocean our sunrise, our heart, our soul, our everything. He taught us so many valuable lessons,” Shiffrin tweeted. “But above everything else, he taught us the golden rule: Be nice, think first. This is something I will carry with me forever. He was the firm foundation of our family and we miss him terribly.”

Soon after his death, Mikaela and her family started the Jeff Shiffren Athlete Resiliency Fund to help US Ski Team athletes through the COVID-19 pandemic, and honor Jeff Shiffren’s legacy of kindness.

After a couple hard seasons, and a very rough 2022 Olympic Games, Mikaela is back on top. This season she broke the record for the most ski racing wins ever which was previously held by Ingemar Stenmark for 34 years.

Mikaela is one of the most influential ski racers of our time; she broke barriers and overcame many setbacks and influenced a new generation of female skiers today.

Megan Rapinoe

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Megan Rapinoe is a professional American soccer player. Since 2006, she has played winger and midfield for the United States Women’s National Team. Before she played nationally, she played for the Portland Pilots, during her college career, from 2005-2008. Rapinoe also currently plays for the OL Reign, a professional soccer team based in Seattle, Washington.

Throughout her career she has numerous accomplishments in soccer. Rapinoe is a three time Olympic Champion. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games she won bronze, in the 2016 Rio games she took the team to 5th place, and finally, in 2012 of the London games she won gold.

Throughout her 197 national appearances, she has scored a total of 63 goals making her the 10th highest goal scorer on the Women’s National Team.

Rapinoe is also a strong activist for the LGBTQ community. She is the latest openly LGBTQ American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in July 2022.

She was among 17 others to receive this honor, she was the first soccer player to get this award, and was one of only six female athletes.

She is an advocate for many LGBTQ organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Athlete Ally.

She’s received awards for her contributions to the LGBTQ community as well. For example, in 2013, she was awarded the Board of Directors Award from the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Then in 2020 she was one of ‘Time Magazine’s’ 100 Most Influential People.

Women in sports are frequently overlooked and pushed aside. Whether it be that they are underpaid, get less TV footage than male athletes, or receive less sponsorships than their male counterparts. These women are idols to many young girls, and they are extremely crucial to the future of the sports. Representation is important in sports because it shows the next generation of athletes that their dreams are possible.

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