Story by: Niki Lorentzen
It used to be a one in a trillion chance for a woman to be recognized in professional athletics- but now it’s only one in a million. It might be a one in a million chance, but, you’re saying there’s a chance?
The summer of 2015 pushed women to conquer their own sporting leagues, and now they want more- they want to play with the boys. This past June, Melissa Mayeux, a 16-year old girl from France, has been added to Major League Baseball’s 2016 international registration list. Yes, that’s right, a 16-year old girl is now eligible to play professional baseball.
“I’ve received a lot of messages from many girls who play baseball across the world and who told me that I had become their new idol,” Mayeux told Daily Mail in a recent interview.
“Despite all of what people say, that a woman isn’t as strong as a man,” said Cindy Chan, a student at Hawaii University and a key player on their softball team, “look at her. She’s stronger and has made it farther than most men could dream of already.”
This past summer brought the U.S. Women’s Soccer team a World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Softball team a World Cup, a Wimbledon championship for Serena Williams, a lifetime of fame for Mixed Martial Artist Ronda Rousey, and a medal for female drag racer Rahaa Haji Mohammed.
“It just goes to show if you put the time and effort into being an athlete you will be able to display it in front of a crowd,” said Geoff Fox, a Chapman University professor who teaches the “Women in Sports” class and coaches the men’s baseball team.
For the first time, women are being hired as coaches for men’s leagues. This past July, Jen Welter became the first female in history to coach an NFL football team. This came shortly after Sarah Thomas became the first female referee to call an NFL game. And most recently, Justine Siegal was hired to coach for the Oakland Athletics, making her the first female in history to coach men’s professional baseball.
“I don't care what sport you play or what kind of coach you are,” said Fox, “if you can make your team better and she happens to be the best candidate for the position, then we hire her.”
Younger generations of females who are aspiring professional athletes are in awe of this past summer’s events. Carolyn Snodgress, a pitcher for Belmont University’s softball team, is impressed by all the victories the summer has brought for female athletes.
“I am excited to see the achievements of younger girls shift as they believe they can do more than ever before,” said Snodgress. “I hope that young girls will look up to them and believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough.”
Fox summed it, adding, “We are all here for the same reason, and that’s to compete and win national championships.”
If all of this wasn’t enough of a victory for female athletes and professionals, Mayeux is now taking on the challenge of competing with men, proving she won’t let her gender stop her from doing what she loves.
“I want to play at the highest level that will suit my skills,” said Mayeux. “Now, my life is a bit complicated.”
Even though Mayeux is one-in-a-million, one-in-a-million female athletes are moving more quickly toward a dime-a-dozen after this summer, proving that playing like a girl isn’t such a bad thing.