Bet Like A Lady

Women’s sports is growing like crazy: each year more people tune in to watch basketball, football, tennis, golf, and hockey than ever before! But how did we get there? Over the last 20 years, several key events have pushed women’s sports forward. Here, we look back at some of our favorite moments.

Jessica Campbell becomes the first woman to be named full-time assistant coach in NHL history
Jessica Campbell becomes the first woman to be named full-time assistant coach in NHL history

The Seattle Kraken have made history by hiring Jessica Campbell as an assistant coach, making her the first woman to hold such a position in the NHL. Campbell’s background includes coaching roles in the AHL with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, and she has a history of playing for Cornell University, the Calgary Inferno, and coaching in various leagues before joining.

Las Vegas Aces sell out all its regular season home games
Las Vegas Aces sell out all its regular season home games

The Las Vegas Aces revealed that they have sold out all tickets for their 2024 regular season home games. This includes 18 games at Michelob ULTRA Arena and two games—July 2 against Indiana and September 3 against Chicago—at T-Mobile Arena. They are the first team in WNBA history to achieve a complete sellout of their regular season home games.

Kids movie ‘Inside Out 2’ centers around girls hockey league
Kids movie ‘Inside Out 2’ centers around girls hockey league

Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” which follows a 13-year-old girl named Riley, a talented hockey player, as she grapples with the intricate feelings of adolescence, was released on June 14. At a prestigious, three-day hockey camp, Riley faces the intense pressure of the competition while also dealing with nervousness. A remarkable number of individuals embarked on this adventure with Riley: “Inside Out 2” earned $155 million in the U.S. during its opening weekend.

2024 PWHL Minnesota wins first ever Walter Cup
2024 PWHL Minnesota wins first ever Walter Cup

After a historic inaugural season for the Professional Women’s Hockey League, PWHL Minnesota beat PWHL Boston to hoist the Walter Cup for the first time. Less than a year after the league was created, the PWHL has its first ever champions.

2024 Caitlin Clark is drafted first overall into the WNBA
2024 Caitlin Clark is drafted first overall into the WNBA

After a record breaking four years at the University of Iowa, leading her team to back-to-back NCAA finals appearances, Clark entered the WNBA draft. She was the undisputed number one prospect and was drafted in April 2024 to the Indiana Fever.

2024 NCAA women’s March Madness final attracts 18.9 million viewers, exceeding men’s viewership for the first time
2024 NCAA women’s March Madness final attracts 18.9 million viewers, exceeding men’s viewership for the first time

The 2024 March Madness mania was an extension of the chaos from the previous year, but turned up a notch. For the first time since the NCAA introduced the women’s tournament, the women’s final garnered more viewers than the men’s final. While South Carolina’s win over Iowa got 18.9 million viewers, the men’s final between UConn and Purdue reached 14.8 million.

2024 Sabrina Ionescu goes head to head with Steph Curry in a Three Point Contest at the NBA All-Star Game
2024 Sabrina Ionescu goes head to head with Steph Curry in a Three Point Contest at the NBA All-Star Game

After breaking the WNBA and NBA record in the three-point contest at the 2023 WNBA All-Star game in Las Vegas, Sabrina Ionescu was challenged to another contest by Steph Curry. The event was held at NBA All-Star Weekend in February 2024, and featured Sabrina vs Steph, with the winner receiving prize money to donate to their personal charity foundation. It was the most viewed event of the entire NBA All-Star Weekend.

2024 Caitlin Clark passes Pete Maravich to take over NCAA scoring record
2024 Caitlin Clark passes Pete Maravich to take over NCAA scoring record

With many men’s NCAA players only staying in college for one season, many believed Maravich’s record of 3,667 career college points would never be broken – until Caitlin Clark came along. Clark beat the record on February 15th, 2024, and went on to record a total of 3,951 points in college, now the record for men’s and women’s NCAA basketball.

Kim Ng is hired as the general manager of the Miami Marlins
Kim Ng is hired as the general manager of the Miami Marlins

On November 13, 2020, Kim Ng was named the general manager of the Miami Marlins, becoming the first woman to hold the GM position in Major League Baseball history. She is also the first woman to serve as general manager of any men’s team in a major North American sports league, marking a historic moment in sports leadership.

2023 Over 92,000 people show up to watch Huskers volleyball in Lincoln, Nebraska
2023 Over 92,000 people show up to watch Huskers volleyball in Lincoln, Nebraska

Nebraska is a volleyball nation, which was put on display in 2023 when 92,003 spectators packed Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska to watch the Huskers women’s volleyball team play against Omaha. The crowd broke the record for highest attendance at a women’s sports event in America.

2023 US Open celebrates 50 years of Equal Prize Money Pay at Grand Slam event
2023 US Open celebrates 50 years of Equal Prize Money Pay at Grand Slam event

In 1972, Billie Jean King won the US Open, but received $15,000 less in prize money than the male winner, Ilse Nastase. She then threatened to boycott the 1973 US Open unless the tournament promised equal prize money to men and women – and had the support of many other women on the tour. The tournament agreed, and in 1973 equal pay was instituted. In 2023, King was in attendance at the tournament again to celebrate the achievement

2023 The Professional Women’s Hockey League is created by Billie Jean King and others
2023 The Professional Women’s Hockey League is created by Billie Jean King and others

After years of parity within professional women’s hockey, the Professional Women’s Hockey League was created with the support of both the owners and the players’ union. It was a quick turnaround between creation and puck drop just six months later, but the PWHL broke many records during its inaugural season.

2023 LSU vs Iowa NCAA Women’s March Madness Final breaks viewership records
2023 LSU vs Iowa NCAA Women’s March Madness Final breaks viewership records

While 2024 saw the boom of women’s basketball, the 2023 March Madness tournament laid the foundation. When LSU and Iowa went head to head in the finals, where LSU would eventually win, 12.3 million viewers tuned in – which broke the record at the time. It was a huge moment in women’s sports, and set up the next year’s tournament rivalries instantly.

Erin Matson became the youngest head coach in NCAA history
Erin Matson became the youngest head coach in NCAA history

Erin Matson was named the head coach of the University of North Carolina’s field hockey team, becoming the youngest head coach in NCAA history at the age of 22. Her appointment marks a significant milestone in collegiate sports, showcasing her exceptional talent and leadership at such a young age.

The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium sets a new attendance record
The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium sets a new attendance record

On July 31, 2022, the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium set a new attendance record for any UEFA tournament match, with 87,192 spectators. This milestone highlighted the growing popularity and support for women’s football across Europe.

2022 USWNT Equal Pay Settlement
2022 USWNT Equal Pay Settlement

After fighting for years with both US Soccer and FIFA to have the USWNT team make the same amount of money as their male counterparts, a historic deal was created. While FIFA won’t currently budge on its stance to award equal pay to the men’s and women’s tournament participants, the men’s and women’s US National teams created a deal where they will pool together all of the prize money made from both teams at every tournament and split it evenly between all athletes.

2021 NCAA approves Name, Image and Likeness Deals
2021 NCAA approves Name, Image and Likeness Deals

Until 2021, college athletes were prohibited from profiting off of their Name, Image and Likeness, despite the growing popularity of college sports making many athletes household names. In 2021, the NCAA reversed this rule, allowing players to partake in NIL deals and generate income from them – changing the landscape for both the athletes and the media promoting them.

2020 Becky Hammon becomes first woman to act as head coach in an NBA game
2020 Becky Hammon becomes first woman to act as head coach in an NBA game

While we still haven’t seen a woman be hired as a full time head coach in the NBA, there are many women in assistant coaching positions around the league. Hammon became the first to act as head coach in 2020 when Gregg Popovich was ejected from a game, and Hammon took over.

2016 Simone Biles wins four Olympic gold medals in Gymnastics
2016 Simone Biles wins four Olympic gold medals in Gymnastics

Simone Biles is now the most decorated gymnast in history, with 37 Olympic and World Championship medals, and 2016 was a huge year for her. She won gold in the Gymnastics Team event, as well as the All-Around individual title, gold medals for the Vault and Floor Exercise events, as well as bronze for Balance Beam. She was chosen as the Team USA flag bearer for the closing ceremonies and sky-rocketed into fame.

Kathryn Smith becomes the first full-time female coach in NFL history
Kathryn Smith becomes the first full-time female coach in NFL history

On January 20, 2016, Kathryn Smith was hired as a full-time special teams quality control coach by the Buffalo Bills, making her the first full-time female coach in NFL history. This groundbreaking hire was a significant step towards gender equality in professional football.

2015 Women’s World Cup Final between USA and Japan attracts over 25 millions viewers, smashing previous record
2015 Women’s World Cup Final between USA and Japan attracts over 25 millions viewers, smashing previous record

When Team USA beat Japan 5-2 in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, the game recorded 25.4 million viewers, becoming the most viewed football game in the United States, men’s or women’s, ever. With the previous record being 18.7 million, this game had no trouble overcoming that number.

2013 Mia Hamm becomes first woman inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame
2013 Mia Hamm becomes first woman inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame

After an illustrious career as an American footballer, Mia Hamm had an Olympic Gold Medal and two FIFA World Championships to show. She also topped the list for most international goals for a period, now sitting third on that list. For her accomplishments, she was inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame in 2013, becoming the first woman to ever receive the honor.

2012 First year that every country at the Olympics has women competing
2012 First year that every country at the Olympics has women competing

The first Olympics of the modern era were held in 1896, but women were not allowed to compete until the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris. It took until the 2012 games in London for every country participating to have a woman representing to compete.

2011 Abby Wambach wins ESPY for Play of Year after scoring in the 122nd minute to save Team USA’s World Cup hopes
2011 Abby Wambach wins ESPY for Play of Year after scoring in the 122nd minute to save Team USA’s World Cup hopes

Football is an interesting sport, because you never really know when the game is going to end. The clock counts up, and you don’t know when the whistle is going off – yet Abby Wambach didn’t succumb to that pressure when she completed the play after Megan Rapinoe crossed the ball to her, scoring in the 122nd minute of the game and saving Team USA’s tournament hopes. She was ultimately rewarded with the ESPY Award for play of the year.

2008 Candace Parker wins Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season
2008 Candace Parker wins Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season

When Candace Parker was drafted first overall out of Tennessee to the LA Sparks in 2008, it was predicted that she would be a star. People did not realize how fast that would happen, though. Parker went on to win Rookie of the Year AND the league’s MVP award in her rookie year, on top of being pregnant for a good chunk of the season. She is still the only player to achieve both awards in the same year.

2005 Danica Patrick is the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500
2005 Danica Patrick is the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500

Danica Patrick dropped out of high school to pursue her racing career, and it paid off. In 2005, she was the first woman to ever hold a lead in the Indianapolis 500, and three years later became the first woman to win an IndyCar event.

2003 The Serena Slam – Williams holds all four Grand Slam titles at once
2003 The Serena Slam – Williams holds all four Grand Slam titles at once

A term now frequently used in tennis, a “Serena Slam” is when a player holds all four Grand Slam titles at the same time, a feat Williams achieved for the first time in 2002-2003. She won the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open in 2002, then capped it off with an Australian open win in 2003.

2002 Lisa Leslie dunks in a WNBA game for the first time
2002 Lisa Leslie dunks in a WNBA game for the first time

One of the most tired criticisms of women’s basketball is that the players don’t dunk, but Lisa Leslie proved the haters wrong by dunking during a game her LA Sparks played against the Miami Sol in July 2002. Her rim-rattling dunk blew the roof off of the Staples center and is one of the best WNBA highlights of all time.

2001 Venus and Serena Williams face in the US Open Final
2001 Venus and Serena Williams face in the US Open Final

This was the first time the Williams sisters faced each other in a Grand Slam Final, and the most anticipated tennis match of the year. Venus won in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6(3), winning the Slam and going up to 4-1 in matches against Serena.