Catching up with women in sports for women’s history month
The brown and white spoke to four athletes – Sabrina Lancaster, 21, Jamie Zamrin, 22, Katia Carnevale, 23 and Teasha McKoy, 22 – to discuss what it means to be a woman in sport.
Q: Which women in sports did you look up to as an adult?
Sabrina Lancaster, outside hitter in volleyball: Growing up, I looked up to Destinee Hooker, who was a phenomenal right-hitter for the University of Texas and the US team. She was always relentless and determined in her performance, and she didn’t care what others thought and persevered.
Jamie Zamrin, cross-country skiing and athletics for women: When I started doing sports I played tennis so I was really excited about Serena Williams. She was a big icon to me. As I got older, I got into the pro runner scene, specifically in Emma Coburn. Her trainer in high school was a trainer in a camp that I went to, and I’ve been obsessed with her since I went to that camp.
Katia Carnevale, attacker in women’s lacrosse: I was a great football player and one of the best players at that time was and is Alex Morgan. The feminine aspect she always wore with her pink pre-wrap made me so proud and I wanted to be just like her when she was growing up.
Teasha McKoy, athletics thrower for women: I have a twin sister, so people often compare us to Serena and Venus. Especially in athletics, I was a sprinter at the time, so I loved Carmelita Jeter, an amazing Olympian, because she was so muscular, strong, and fast and could do it.
Q: What is your favorite sports memory?
SL: I can’t really pinpoint it to an exact point, [except for]I formed camaraderie throughout my high school and especially college career. We found greatness in combat and in discipline, and being part of a team is the best I could ever ask for.
SW: My father knew I would be a runner. When I was 6, my dad and brother played tennis next to the racetrack in high school and I got bored of playing with them so I went to the racetrack. He watched me run one lap, then another, and I went on and ran a full mile. Nobody in my family runs and it was completely random; I almost passed out because it was so hot in the summer. My father always looks back and says, “You were a born runner.”
KC: Growing up, one of my favorite memories was that my father trained me in soccer. My dad is my favorite person on the planet and it was very special for me to be able to teach myself something that we both had a mutual love for.
TM: When I played soccer in high school, my freshman year was the first time in history that we won our championship.
Q: What do you think is the biggest barrier to women’s sport visibility?
SL: We try to follow women’s sport because we don’t have as many spectators as our male colleagues. We can do that by going to our female colleagues’ games and making sure we tune in. The more support and visibility we can give as fans and viewers, [the more]People will realize how great it is to watch women’s sports.
SW: Much of it is the imagery. Girls learn to be small and pretty and then check out these professional athletes who are super built and girls don’t want to be seen as masculine when they are younger. It’s really hard to convince girls who have been taught their entire lives to be successful by looking pretty that they can [also]Be muscular and that is still beautiful and a sign of femininity and strength as a woman.
KC: There has always been the stereotype that men are better athletes everywhere. So it’s gotten more and more attention because they’re “more entertaining” or “more physical”. We are struggling to overcome these stereotypes. We’re built differently than they are, but it doesn’t change the power and value of our sport.
TM: People think that men are generally more athletic and superior. The first thing that comes to mind is the WNBA vs. NBA. I think the WNBA is picking up speed right now because people are realizing that basketball players are dope and can play.
Q: How do you think male athletes can help increase the visibility of women’s sport?
SL: Show support. If you have a sister team, show off [them]Support and [give]their visibility by promoting the role models we have and the people we look up to.
SW: Making the playing field fair: You don’t necessarily throw a girl into all men’s practice, but you encourage girls to do the same things as men to the best of their ability. Many women believe that they will never reach the same heights as men, so when [they]are ready to build it up, it can be more powerful than even a trainer saying it.
KC: All media [where they]Show your support and tell the people who express their real joy in female sports. This could help people change their minds about them. Hearing from a man watching a women’s team play means a lot, coming from a gender that doesn’t experience the inequality we have.
TM: I think to show support in general and highlight women’s success in sport for other people to see that not only women are fighting for visibility; Everyone is fighting [with them].
Q: What does it mean to you to be a woman in sports?
SL: It is powerful. It means dominance; it means assertiveness. It means putting the same determination and hard work expected of men in sports, breaking barriers and showing women how strong it is to be a woman.
SW: You begin to break down barriers that you would not have thought possible before. Exercise is a great achievement and you show everyone around you what you can do. It’s a symbol of strength and power to get out there every day and do something that can get pretty exhausting. Running isn’t always nice, you’re drenched in sweat, you spat in your face at the end of a race. To be able to handle and master all of the incredibly difficult moments while still trying to show poise and grace when doing something [shows me that]I can do anything I want to because I can walk.
KC: I’ve identified myself as an athlete all my life and it’s something that made me so proud and comfortable in my skin. Sport is my life and being an athlete means the world to me. It gave me my friends, the best coaches, and some of the best lessons in life that I couldn’t even imagine not being an athlete. While it’s not all, it has helped me figure out the other things that I am.
TM: Women who are muscular in athletics have always provided me with a safe space and paved the way for me. I had problems with my body image because as a woman I didn’t feel feminine enough or too masculine. For me it was an attempt to stop seeing myself that way and to accept and accept my physical appearance [because]A woman shouldn’t look any certain way.
Q: What advice would you give to a young girl just starting out in the sport?
SL: Don’t let anyone stop you from following your dreams, no matter how unrealistic they may seem to everyone else. If you really love your sport then go for it and if you don’t like the path you are taking or the current sport you are moving forward, don’t be afraid to stand up and be strong and not give up because of a bunch of girls looking up at you everywhere
SW: Be confident in your authentic abilities no matter what someone tells you. As long as you are confident [yourself], it will take you further than anything else.
KC: I would say always compete, regardless of gender or level. Never let yourself be stopped from doing what you can and have fun while doing it.
TM: Don’t worry about what others say about you, because it’s not about other people’s opinions, it’s about making sure you are doing something that you love. If I were to speak to myself, I would say, “You are as beautiful as you are and there is nothing more beautiful than strength.”
Q: Where do you see women in sports 10 years from now?
SL: I see them pushing more boundaries than I ever thought before. I see stronger, faster, more determined, more headstrong women [who aren’t]Afraid of what others think of them playing the sport [best]their abilities and violation of gender norms.
SW: Women are always improving, especially in my sport where we see records being broken in every single event every year. Women are increasingly approaching things that never seemed possible and surpassing them in ways they never thought possible, and hopefully the sport will continue to become more inclusive for women.
KC: We have made monumental strides over the past 10 years. The difference between now and 1999 alone is monumental. I only see growth from here. I don’t see us going backwards in any way, shape, or shape, I just see people who have the realization that women’s sports are just as great as men’s.
TM: I hope that equal pay will be a thing and that there will be more visibility of women in athletics [and]that there will be more equality and more representation.