Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day, dedicated to acknowledging and championing the accomplishments of women in sports. It is also a reminder that the fight for equality in athletics is far from over.
Flo Hyman understood that fight intimately. The Olympic volleyball player was a leading advocate for Title IX, and National Girls and Women in Sports Day was created in her honor.
Great progress has been made in the world of sport since Hyman’s work and the passing of Title IX, but there’s still much to be done. Today, only two in five girls participate in sports, deterred by reasons like cost, access to facilities, safety and more. It’s an equity issue our friends at Under Armour are placing front-and-center this year with a commitment to breaking down barriers that keep millions of youth from playing. “Everyone deserves the right to experience the power of sport,” says CEO, Patrik Frisk.
Today, we’re joining Under Armour to celebrate four incredible female athletes whose early involvement in sports launched their successful careers and who continue to inspire us every day.
The two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medal winner is one of the most influential players in American soccer. O’Hara also hosts the Just Women’s Sports podcast. Now a star defender for the reigning NWSL champion Washington Spirit, O’Hara played forward all her life before switching to left back during the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament.
O’Hara rose up the ranks as a soccer player in Fayette County, Ga., where she played four years of varsity at Starr’s Mill High School and led the team to a 5A state title as a senior in 2006 with 20 goals and 16 assists. The standout season earned her Gatorade Georgia State Player of the Year honors and a leading role at Stanford as a freshman. In 2009, she won the Hermann Trophy, given annually to the nation’s best player.
The 6-foot-4 Thompson was a key cog on the United States’ 2020 Tokyo Olympics team, scoring 34 points to help eliminate defending champion China in pool play. Despite losing Thompson to injury, the U.S. went on to win its first-ever gold medal.
Thompson starred at Edina High School (Minn.), playing four years of varsity and leading the team in blocks and kills as a senior. She earned her first college scholarship after just two years of club volleyball, and at Cincinnati, where she helped run an athlete bible study in her spare time, she was a three-time unanimous American Athletic Conference player of the year.
The reigning Softball America Pitcher of the Year recently wrapped up one of the most decorated college careers of all time. As James Madison’s starting pitcher for four seasons, Alexander led the Dukes to their first-ever College World Series in 2021. Alexander went 6-2 with a 2.92 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings as James Madison became the first unranked team to advance to the semifinals.
Alexander was raised by her grandparents in Boydton, Va., and taught herself how to pitch by spray-painting targets on her grandparents’ water well. She flew under the radar at small-town Park View High School, and was discovered by a James Madison coach who was in the area to scout the opposing team’s pitcher.
Alexander now pitches for the USSSA Pride after playing in Athletes Unlimited’s second softball season last year.
One of the WNBA’s top rising prospects, Charles was selected No. 23 overall by the Connecticut Sun in the 2020 draft. Charles helped Maryland win the Big Ten Tournament her freshman and senior seasons and averaged 13.8 points per game over her career, tied for 12th in program history.
Charles starred for three years at Eleanor Roosevelt High School (Greenbelt, Md.) before transferring to nearby Riverdale Baptist School, where she led the team to the national championship game and earned McDonald’s All-American honors. Charles is of Trinidadian and Antiguan heritage, as represented on her custom Under Armour sneakers.