When I first started interning at KidSport, I was very interested in learning more about the Girls and GRIT program that KidSport Edmonton runs. This program empowers girls to participate in sport by removing the barriers so that more girls can play. If you want to learn more about the Girls and GRIT program, click here!
KidSport Edmonton’s Girls and GRIT program was a great tie-in to what I thought were the most interesting classes that I took in university. At the U of A, my favourite classes were about sport history, especially women in sport. Because of this, I decided that this week’s blog post was going to be my top seven females’ firsts in sports. Under my top moments, I have included links to websites that will teach you even more about the event. I hope you enjoy!
Born to Ride
Up until the 1890s, bicycles were only made for men to ride. This is because women couldn’t ride a bike side-saddle like they could on a horse. Men were also worried that women would get “bicycle face”, which is the expression of concentration, because they feared it would ruin their beauty. From the 1890s onward, women constantly challenged the male-dominated norms of the bicycle to a place where we are today in Northern America: where men and women are both allowed to ride bikes without any judgement.
To read more about the history of the bicycle, click here
On Track to Equal Rights
1928 was the first time that the Olympics opened up events for women in track and field. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) opened up five events for women including the 100m, 4x100m relay, and 800m. But, after these Olympics, the IOC banned women from running the 800m because too many females had fainted during the race. After the fainting incidents, the IOC believed that women were too delicate and fragile to run far distances (even though it’s more likely they were just exhausted from running 800m), so they only allowed them to run 200m or less. The 800m race wasn’t brought back for women until 1960!
To watch a video about women in the 1928 Olympics, click here
To read more about women in the 1928 Olympics, click here
An Above Par Woman
Babe Didrikson Zaharias became the first woman to enter and golf in a Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour event in 1934. If golfing in the PGA wasn’t enough, Didrikson also went to the 1932 Olympics for three events in track and field. Didrikson left a lasting impact on the sporting world today, as she was a founding member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
To read more about Babe Didrikson Zaharias, click here
The Race to Equal Rights for Women
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman (as a numbered entrant) to run the Boston Marathon. This was incredibly contentious, and a few miles into her race, an official tried to stop Switzer from running, by physically trying to pull her off the course. But Kathrine persisted, finished the race, and has since run 39 marathons.
Tending to the Lack of Women in the NHL
In 1992, Manon Rheaume became the first female to play in an NHL game. She was invited to play in net for Tampa Bay against the St. Louis Blues and then played again against the Boston Bruins in two exhibition games. Although Rheaume let in 2 goals, and only played one period against St. Louis, it is safe to say it wasn’t about the final score or how many goals she let in. More importantly, it was about the history and positive impact for girls and women everywhere that occured when Manon stepped on the ice. As of today, Rheaume is still the only woman who has ever played in an NHL preseason game.
She Shoots, She Scores!
Hayley Wickenheiser became the first female hockey player to score a goal playing on a men’s professional hockey team in Helsinki, Finland (2003). Playing on the Finnish team, Salamat, she scored two goals and 11 points over two seasons and became known for her faceoff skills. Wickenheiser’s accomplishments have created a lasting impact on girls who play hockey today. In fact, her impact was so great that Hayley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for her outstanding contributions to the sport in 2019.
To learn more about Hayley Wickenheiser's induction into the hall of fame, click here
Breaking Records and Breaking Down Barriers
Just last year in 2019, Allyson Felix became the first woman to break the current world record for number of gold medals won at the World Championships level. Felix won her 12th gold medal, which broke Usain Bolt’s previous record. On top of this feat, she broke this record only 10 months after giving birth to her daughter!
To learn more about Allyson Felix, click here
If you have any favourite historical moments in sport or want to learn more about these events, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I may even write about them in a future blog post!