WomenSport International Newsletter

Global Voice of Research-Based Advocacy for Women in Sport

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Message from the President: February 2023

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2023 We hope your work, research, and other initiatives to support women in sport worldwide have proved rewarding so far this year. I want to take this opportunity to review what WomenSport International (WSI) has accomplished over the past four years and what the future holds for our volunteer-operated organization.

The WSI Executive and Advisory Board has worked to rebuild our organizational structure, renew partnerships, and develop a stronger presence as a leading organization for women in sport. Holding WSI Town Hall meetings and webinars has enabled us to understand our members’ needs better and help them spark action in their various sports organizations.

Our task forces – comprising five to nine experts apiece – address a variety of issues, including sport in a post-binary world, international advocacy campaigns, women in sport leadership, non-accidental violence in sport, the needs of persons with a disability, and women in the media.

We enjoy fruitful collaborations with like-minded organizations such as ICSSPE, ACSM and IAPESGW. WSI remains a permanent member of the IWG International Board, and six WSI Board members made presentations at the International Women’s Group on Women in Sport (IWG) Conference in New Zealand in November 2022. (See here for an archive of our various presentations worldwide.) We are also part of the international Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) action movement. All these initiatives have increased WSI’s visibility and reach.

Our members are taking the lead in advocacy and education efforts globally as well. These range from Carole Oglesby’s work with S(heroes), a 2021-founded organization in India that specializes in the plight of girls in blighted urban areas, to Ani Chroni’s mediation efforts regarding the Global Observatory on Women and Sport, to name just two examples.

Dr. Kari Fasting, a WSI founding member, was recently awarded the IOC European Award for Women in Sport. And Nada Corre received special thanks at the WSI AGM in December for her role in promoting women’s sport in the Czech Republic as she retired from the WSI Board. Naturally, we are excited to welcome the members of our new Board, which will serve from 2023 to 2026.

From membership drives to partnerships with supportive companies such as Concept2 and Therabody, we look forward to continued growth for WSI as we promote equitable opportunities for girls and women in sports worldwide. Our WSI newletter, with chief editor Lucas Aykroyd and assistant editor Peri Sheinin, will keep you posted on the latest developments.

This Message from the President is a condensed version of our 2022 Annual Report, which will go to the United Nations.

Excitement around women’s sports is rising with major events like the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Brampton, Ontario (April) and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand (July-August). Let’s keep on working. When we stick together, great things are possible.

Diane Huffman

President, WomenSport International

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WSI News

WomenSport International (WSI) has started the new year of 2023 positively and strongly. The new term with the WSI Board started on January 2023. We have five new Board members. Click here to view the new Executive Committee and here to view the new Board of Directors. We look forward to expanding our work with the 2023-2026 Board members.

WSI recently hosted a webinar on “United States Collegiate Coaches’ Perceptions of Transgender Athletes’ Inclusion”. Our guest speakers were Ms. Macey Arnold, Ms. Kasey Chambers, and Dr. Trent A. Petrie from the University of North Texas (USA).

An overview of the presentation states: “Coaches hold particular responsibility in developing sport environments and team cultures and have critical and often personal relationships with athletes; therefore, coaches have a direct role in athlete wellbeing and personal development. Within the United States, the NCAA has provided an avenue for transgender athletes to compete in collegiate sports according to the athletes’ gender identity through the Transgender Student-Athlete Participation Policy (NCAA, 2022). Nevertheless, it is unclear how supportive, welcoming, and safe these sport environments are for transgender athletes, and specifically, how coaches’ views and attitudes may be impacting transgender athletes.”

Findings have implications for (a) guiding policy discussions regarding transgender athletes' participation in sports and (b) developing training and education for coaches and other key stakeholders regarding their efficacy in working with transgender athletes and creating a welcoming and safe environment for transgender athletes. To view the recording from the webinar, visit the WSI webinar archive on our website.

In addition, WSI is collaborating with four other organizations – the International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sport, International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) – to host a session on “Enhancing research, education and advocacy in women’s sport through technology” at UN CSW 67 in New York.

It is on March 8, 2023, from 12:30 pm to 2:00pm (EST). The topics of the presentations are:

  • Digital Technology Enhancing Accessibility in Sport and Physical Activity for Women and Girls (WSI)
  • Role of Technology in Enhancing the Asia-Pacific Women & Sport Insight Hubs (IWG)
  • Digitalization in Sport and Physical Education: Reflections and implications for empowering girls and women (IAPESGW)
  • Advancing Women's Health and Performance Research Using Technology (ACSM)
  • We Play Interactive: A Review of Digital Platforms as Resources for Gender Equity in Sports (WSF)

Dr. Kanae Haneishi

Secretary General, WomenSport International

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In Her Own Words: Calling the Shots at ITA Indoor Nationals

This first-person account by assistant newsletter editor Peri Sheinin, a former college tennis player, describes her recent coverage of an elite women’s tennis tournament. Sheinin works as a sports anchor with WHSV in Harrisonburg, Virginia and hosts On the Rise, a women’s college tennis podcast.

Security opened my backpack and pulled out a microphone, headset, and pop filter.

“I’m a broadcaster,” I said with a smile as I wondered if this delay would cause me to miss my flight. I would have arrived at the airport earlier for a cross-country flight but the college basketball game I was covering went late, leaving me little chance to get to my gate on time.

After two years working as a sports broadcaster reporting on every sport, I was finally on my way home...athletically speaking. I was on my way to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Women’s Team Indoor Championship at the University of Washington. It was my first time being an on-air analyst but given my past as a Division I tennis player at Brown University, I was ready. And I was thrilled. I was also terrified because I wanted to be terrific.

I walked into the Nordstrom Tennis Center and felt my body immediately relax as I heard the familiar sound of tennis balls popping off freshly strung rackets. I looked to the right bank of courts and saw the University of Texas, the top team in the country, practicing volleys and overheads. On my left, players from the University of North Carolina, the three-time defending Indoor National Champion and the number two seed, were drilling cross-courts.

I shook hands with my co-host, Alex, and we sat down next to one another to record a preview podcast before the 9 a.m. matches began. Right before we started the broadcast, I looked down at the courts, closed my eyes, and imagined myself getting ready to compete.

Over the next four days, Alex and I were on-air for 48 hours covering matches between the sixteen best teams in the country. We wore headsets but our equipment did not dull the raw emotion that surrounded us. Unlike professional tennis that insists on a code of quiet during and before points, every point in college tennis is drowned in cheers and clapping while play is ongoing. College rallying cries and shouts of encouragement or frustration bounce off the courts for hours.

In the semifinals, the University of North Carolina played the University of Michigan. The Wolverines had a last-minute lineup change due to an injury and an illness. The freshman who stepped into the lineup was my sister, Bayley. Watching my sister battle one of the best players in the country while simultaneously calling her match was an intense on-air experience. Alex was kind and encouraging as he gave me the chance to recount childhood stories about my sister while he analyzed the match from a more data-based perspective.

College tennis is an emotional journey. Every match brought me back to the distinct feeling of fighting for my teammates, my school, and my athletic goals. I cannot wait for my next opportunity to cover tennis at the collegiate or professional level. In the meantime, I’ll be in Virginia, covering basketball season as local high school and college teams fight for conference titles. My tennis racket is still in my closet, but my grip on the sport remains the same.

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Professional Opportunities

WomenSport International

WomenSport International (WSI) was formed in 1994 to meet the challenge of ensuring that sport and physical activity receive the attention and priority they deserve in the lives of women and girls. The main purpose of WSI is to serve as an umbrella organization that can bring about positive change for girls and women. Our advocacy is strongly based on current research.