Covering NJ Female Athletes at All Levels

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Women & Sports is a NorthJersey.com column devoted to female athletes from the recreational league level to those of college and pro. If you have any advice on a North Jersey athlete that should be noted in the column, regardless of age or youth, please message me at [email protected]

We’ve collected all the columns here in one place for you to dig in and get your fix on the multi-faceted issues surrounding women’s sports.

Along the way you will also get to know me – Melanie Anzidei, former college football player who is eager to find forgotten or under-reported sports stories, and bring them to the forefront for the world to see.

ESPYs controversy latest example that college athletes deserve better (7-22-22)

South Carolina star Aliyah Boston celebrates after leading the Gamecocks to a national championship.

The same week the NCAA released its progress report on gender equity and college basketball, ESPN is under fire from critics for not inviting South Carolina women’s basketball star Aliyah Boston to her annual ESPYs summer awards show. Both elements exemplify the polarizing nature of women’s sport: one day we’re celebrating progress, then the next day a glaring example is showcased for all the work that remains to be done.

Boston won a national championship and was named National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four in 2022. She was also nominated for Top College Athlete in Women’s Sports at the ESPYs of this year. Yet she was dropped from the awards show guest list — a move that proved an epic failure for the sports broadcasting network.

For trans youth in NJ, women’s sports remain a safe space despite bans elsewhere (7-15-22)

A protester holds a flag during a rally in support of transgender youth in Lady Lake on Sunday, April 25, 2021. [PAUL RYAN / CORRESPONDENT]

At least 18 states currently ban transgender athletes from participating in sports that match their gender identity – with more bans likely to be introduced in other states. In New Jersey, the right of trans athletes is in a way a foundation in the youth sports landscape.

Female varsity athletes are the first winners of NIL’s freshman year (7-8-22)

UConn's Paige Bueckers tries to get past South Carolina's Bree Hall during the national championship game April 3 in Minneapolis.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

It’s officially been a year since the era of name, image and likeness began in college sports. NIL permanently altered the college athletic landscape, rushing into a new form of amateurism for student-athletes at all levels. And while a lot will continue to change in the years to come with NIL, so far, female athletes have been the top winnersreaping the benefits of endorsement deals.

Female athletes have made progress on reproductive freedom in the workplace (7-1-22)

Pro-abortion protesters are seen marching towards a Pride block party outside the Fair Lawn Municipal Building, Sunday 6/26/22.

The symbolism couldn’t be clearer. A week ago, the United States marked 50 years since Title IX came into effect, ushering in a new era for girls and women who played sports in the 1970s. It was a monumental milestone. , and this year, in its wake, the conversation had shifted to finding ways to maintain momentum.

But a day after that anniversary, the momentum slowed when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and what for nearly 50 years had been a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Reproductive freedom and women’s sport go hand in hand.

50 years after Title IX, there are still plenty of modern “firsts” in New Jersey (6-24-22)

One of the only women's varsity club baseball teams on the East Coast, Montclair State participated in the first ever women's baseball club baseball tournament.  The event took place March 19-22, 2022 at the Major League Baseball Youth Academy in Compton, CA.

It’s been 50 years since Title IX became the law of the land. In 37 words, this historic passage opened the door for gender equality in sport, education and society to take shape across the United States. All these years later, many doors are still opening for girls who play sports.

In New Jersey, there are plenty of untold stories of women making daily progress in male-dominated athletic spaces. Today I’m going to take a moment to highlight some of the modern “firsts” for women and girls in Garden State sports.

Women’s soccer is the crown jewel of American football. It is important. (17-06-22)

Brandi Chastain of the United States celebrates after winning the Women's World Cup final on July 10.  Chastain ripped off her bikini in celebration, sparking controversy over the sports bra she was wearing.  AP Photo

When you have a thriving game at the highest level, you give young players a visualization of what a future looks like in this sport. There’s still a long way to go to develop a game beyond that, but it’s a start.

In North Jersey and New York, Gotham FC is slowly growing the game by investing in an official reserve team in the Women’s Premier Soccer League and step up youth clinics. Kearny, known as Soccertown USA, is now home to the recently formed women’s pro-am team, Athletic Cashmere.

As sports icons push for gun laws, female athletes have long been activists (6-10-22)

A minute's silence in memory of the children and teachers killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde before the game between the Houston Dash and the North Carolina Courage at PNC Stadium.

Athletes have been using their platforms to protest social injustices and drive change for decades. In the world of women’s sports in particular, athletes have been making this type of call to action for a long time – the demands of athletes have even led to significant changes in recent years. After the Uvalde massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers, Natasha Cloud of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics spoke to reporters, calling on fans listening to write to their local politicians demanding change, echoing a call for the similar action launched by the team in 2020.

“This game doesn’t matter,” Cloud said. “The [21] lives that were lost today due to senseless gun violence in Texas at an elementary school – we are talking about our children who are not safe to go to school and our government is still not enforcing sensible gun laws.”

WNBA shining example of how investment in women’s sports continues to grow (6-3-22)

July 14, 2022;  Phoenix, Arizona;  UNITED STATES;  Mercury forward Reshanda Gray (12) defends Mystics guard Natasha Cloud (9) during a game at the Footprint Center.

What can we say about the W? It’s the oldest running professional women’s league in the country – that alone is huge. While women’s sports leagues have struggled to last more than a few seasons over the past few decades, the WNBA can in many ways serve as the North Star.

The league, like most women’s sports organizations, is experiencing record growth. More people are watching. The league’s 2022 draft averaged 403,000 viewers, 20% more than last year. This resumes the increase in overall viewership from last season.

Even better, not only are more people watching professional women’s basketball, they invest in it too.

American football’s equal pay victory will be the biggest sports victory of 2022 (5-27-22)

Fans along the parade route sing for equal pay as they await the United States Women's National Soccer Team in July 2019

There are few teams as important in sports history as the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. Whether it was the team that won a historic fourth World Cup title after beating the Netherlands in the summer of 2019, or the legendary 99ers who took women’s football to the mainstream, the team embodies what athletes are capable of when challenging for status. what.

Their latest accomplishment? Ensuring equal pay with the United States Men’s National Soccer Team.

As Title IX hits 50, new NorthJersey.com column dedicated to female athletes (5-20-22)

Record/Northjersey.com reporter Melanie Anzidei (C) shares the moment with team mates during a break as she finally plays soccer at Sinatra Park Soccer Field in Hoboken 08/03/20 following the effect of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Women’s sports are having a moment – not the kind of moment that will pass, but the kind that will be remembered and reflected upon.

Almost every day there is another breaking story that illustrates another shattered glass ceiling or another historic milestone reached. Whether when Kelsie Whitmore became the first woman to start in an Atlantic League game, or when the Barcelona Femeni broke its own record for the most attended women’s football match in history with 91,648 spectators at the Camp Nou. Or – you get the idea.

Even as I sit here typing this column, news broke that FIFA, world football’s governing body, has named three women among the 36 referees chosen to officiate at the Men’s World Cup in Qatar. later this year, and three more in the assistant group.

With so much going on in the world of women’s sports, we felt it was important not to let these moments go unacknowledged. For too long, that’s exactly what we’ve done.

That is why we create a space to talk everything. The ups and downs. The new and the old. From the business side of sport to youth development. From pros to recreational leagues. There are no forbidden topics, and we look forward to bringing these stories to light with you, our reader.

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