Women are experiencing a golden era in sports, thanks to their hard work and determination to blaze trails in traditionally male-dominated arenas. While some sports still have clearly defined lines for men and women, others are seeing an influx of women on male-majority teams and categories.
Here are three female athletes who are competing directly with males in their sports — and setting records and making history, too.
The first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A game, Hnida has no problem keeping up with male football players in the arena. She’s the third woman to score in a college football game, the second woman to dress for a Division I-A game, and the first woman to dress for a bowl game. She grew up in Colorado where she played on the varsity football team. Hnida was even named one of America’s “20 most influential teens” by Teen People Magazine. She played college football at both the University of Colorado Boulder and later the University of New Mexico. Today Hnida plays semi-pro football for the Colorado Cobras and the KC Mustangs in the Interstate Football League.
This Canadian model and television personality knows some of the lesser-known secrets to sports success. In addition to her time on camera, she is a jockey in thoroughbred horse racing. She rode horses in equestrian events as a girl, but began her career in the year 2000 and won her first career race that year. Since then she’s won several races and was the first female jockey to win the Hundred Grander. Sutherland also made history as the first woman jockey to ride in the world’s richest horse race, the $10 million Dubai World Cup. In 2012, she was the first female jockey to win the Hollywood Gold Cup.
An American professional stock car racing driver, Patrick is the most successful female in the history of American open-wheel racing. In an industry dominated by men, she was able to win the Indy Japan 300 in 2008 – the only women’s victory in an IndyCar Series race. She placed third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, the highest finish ever by a female. Patrick began go-karting at the age of 10 and the NASCAR driver has never looked back. Her impressive career is also considered a big breakthrough and continues to inspire women around the world — from women who find success in poker to women who aren’t afraid to climb the corporate ladder, despite the challenges of their gender.
Many people used to feel that women did not belong in arenas and on tracks playing sports alongside or against their male counterparts, and failed to take them seriously. Today, more and more people embrace women in sports competing against men. Not only are today’s female athletes well respected, they are praised for boldly competing against men in sports and showing they have no problem holding their own.
Who are your favorite female athletes who compete against men?