Sidetracked by injuries and excruciating losses, the UConn star was stopped in her quest to lead the Huskies to a national title. But as the youngest daughter in a hoops-obsessed family starts her WNBA career, it’s clear she developed a toughness you shouldn’t bet against.
… The future-of-the-sport stuff will likely stick for a while, and it’s not just because Pugh was called up to the U20 national team at the age of 16 and went on to become the youngest player for the USWNT to score an Olympic goal, or because she scored 15 of them by the time she was old enough to drink. Rather, it’s because amid all of that, she blazed her own path. After briefly enrolling at UCLA, Pugh decided to forgo NCAA soccer and enter the National Women’s Soccer League, and she was later drafted by the Spirit. Going pro early is the norm for American men; not long ago, Pennsylvania whiz kid Christian Pulisic decamped for Germany’s Borussia Dortmund at the age of 16. But women in the U.S. rarely make the leap.
“I think it’s fantastic,” USWNT head coach Jill Ellis says. “We have to get to a point in this country where our top players are seeking out the most challenging environments.”
Ellis watched Pugh for the first time at a U14 national camp and was immediately taken by the young player, a fearless attacker who wove through packs of older girls like she was riding a scooter in traffic. Since then, Ellis says Pugh has improved both her technique and her tactical ability. In the World Cup, she will likely come off the bench — the team is stacked up front, with Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath on the roster — but Ellis sees the team’s youngest attacker as a potent weapon. When I ask her what role Pugh might play in France, she paints a picture. “You’re in the 70th minute and you’re exhausted and suddenly Mal Pugh is running at you,” she says, adding, “She doesn’t have to take the weight of the world on her shoulders right now.”
… “I can tell my teammates are excited about my son,” Brynjarsdottir said. “I showed up with him my first day here. Since then, they’ve been asking me every day why he’s not with me. I have to remind them that I’m here to train.”
The Thorns aren’t accustomed to having a baby in tow. Few clubs in the National Women’s Soccer League are. The NWSL Players Association estimates that there are seven players with children currently competing in the nine-team league. Brynjarsdottir (pronounced brin-yas-daughter), forward Jessica McDonald and defender Tina Ellertson are the only mothers who have competed for the Thorns during the club’s seven-year history.
More female professional athletes are finding ways to embrace motherhood without compromising their careers. All-time great Serena Williams made a high-profile return to elite tennis last year following her pregnancy.
As soon as Natasha Hastings, 32, learned she was pregnant, she began to wonder.
She pondered all the fraught physiological and cultural questions that undergird the modern motherhood industrial complex: How would her body change? Would her fiancé share equally in the work of round-the-clock baby care? What happens when she returns to her career — and would she even have a career to return to?
But she also had some custom asks: Would she ever run a quarter-mile in 52 seconds or less, again, and if so, how soon? What support would it take for her to make it to the Olympics one last time? And, crucially, would sponsors stick by her as she tries to make the trip?
Women's Sports Foundation, The She Network, Madison Keys from
I’ve played on the biggest stages, on the biggest tennis courts of the world. I’ve played on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the US Open finals, Court Philippe Chatrier in the French Open semifinals, Rod Laver Arena in the Australian Open semifinals, Centre Court at Wimbledon. I’ve been ranked as high as No.7 in the world.
Those highs, those opportunities are what I put thousands of hours into, what I’ve sacrificed my childhood for, time with my loving family, time to be there for my younger sisters, who I want nothing more than for them to see me as a role model.
To walk off the court and be flooded with hateful messages from complete strangers, messages of racial abuse, calling me ugly, wishing violence on me and my family, all because I lost a tennis match?
The sobs were audible. Chubby tear-stained cheeks visible via Skype. On her first of many lonely nights at 10 Rue de Poissy, in an apartment 10 miles west of Paris, long before she became a reticent U.S. national team star, an 18-year-old girl from Colorado called her mom and cried.
It was September of 2012 when Lindsey Horan first wondered what the hell she had done. Months earlier, she had barged into her mother’s bedroom at a similarly nocturnal hour, flicked on the lights, and revealed the biggest decision of her life. She had turned down the most prestigious college scholarship in women’s soccer. Turned down a well-worn path to USWNT stardom, and instead chosen an untrodden one, all because of a dream. So in late August, to fulfill it, Horan flew an ocean and half a continent away from home, to a sprawling European metropolis, its culture and intricacies capable of swallowing up even the most mature foreign teenager. She was there to do something no American woman had ever done: Play soccer, professionally, straight out of high school. For PSG. On a six-figure contract.
But before she could, not two weeks into her trailblazing adventure, the club moved her out of a host family’s house, into the apartment on Rue de Poissy. And with her first evening alone winding down, she came to a problematic realization.
… Running is a unique individual sport because it’s actually marbled with elements of teamwork. There are cross-country teams, relay squads, and track meets that are collectively scored. Many runners who are finished with their school days go on to join running groups, ranging from elite teams to local clubs. Yet you don’t need anyone else to run—some runners thrive on hammering their miles in solitude. There’s also the added complexity of competing against your own teammates in an every-runner-for-herself, starkly objective measure on the race course.
Why do we stick together, and what is the balance between sharing the work and going it alone that can help us thrive on race day?
Objective: This study compared the activity profile of different types of soccer-specific training activity with the demands of competitive international female match-play.
Methods: Twenty-one female players from the Brazilian National Soccer Team were monitored in twenty-two on-field training sessions during the 30-day preparatory training camp prior to the 2016 Olympic Games. Activities were categorized into warmup (WU), small sided games (SSG), technical and tactical training (TTT) and friendly matches (FM). The activity profile in each type of drill was then compared to the ones of the 6 matches performed during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Results: It was found that distance traveled at different speeds were higher during matches compared to WU, SSG, and TTT, but not compared to FM. Frequency of accelerations was similar between matches and TTT, SSG and FM. Repeated acceleration and sprints were higher during Matches compared to WU, TTT, SSG but FM presented similar results.
Conclusion: It was concluded that although there were different acceleration and deceleration demands amongst WU, SSG and TTT compared to match-play, FM was the only training activity which consistently replicated or exceeded Olympic matches’ physical demands.
… A savvy shooting guard and No. 2 overall WNBA draft pick out of Duke University in 2004, [Alana] Beard, 37, has always known that basketball would only be the first stage of her professional life, a launching pad. But while her male counterparts in the NBA (where even mid-tier players pull down $10 million per year) have the capital on hand to break into new industries, WNBA players like Beard (whose WNBA salary is $108,000 this year) face more of an uphill battle.
And trust us, she’s got plans. Already a successful franchisor (more on that later), Beard hopes to put her venture capitalist learnings to work serving women, who are often overlooked in the VC world: Just 2.2 percent of venture capital funding went to female founders or all-female groups in 2018. Her ultimate goal? Become a founding managing partner at a venture capital firm that raises funds from other professional women athletes and invests in marginalized communities. Ultimately, she hopes to help reallocate wealth by leveraging her network of “powerful women to come on as advisers.”
… With GPS technology, “coaches can plan team strategies, substitutions, design physical workouts sessions according to the demands of each player’s position. GPS can also track game fatigue by showing the difference between the highest running intensities during first and last 15 minutes of the game. The differences can indicate player exhaustion and team fitness” say the German National Performance Team. They are able to make sure that they get the balance right in terms of their playing loads and training loads as they move from competition to competition.
Background There have been no large randomised controlled trials to determine whether soccer headgear reduces the incidence or severity of sport-related concussion (SRC) in US high school athletes.
Objective We aimed to determine whether headgear reduces the incidence or severity (days out from soccer) of SRCs in soccer players.
Methods 2766 participants (67% female, age 15.6±1.2) (who undertook 3050 participant years) participated in this cluster randomised trial. Athletes in the headgear (HG) group wore headgear during the season, while those in the no headgear (NoHG) group did not. Staff recorded SRC and non-SRC injuries and soccer exposures. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine time-to-SRC between groups, while severity was compared with a Wilcoxon rank-sum test.
Results 130 participants (5.3% female, 2.2% male) sustained an SRC. The incidence of SRC was not different between the HG and NoHG groups for males (HR: 2.00 (0.63–6.43) p=0.242) and females (HR: 0.86 (0.54–1.36) p=0.520). Days lost from SRC were not different (p=0.583) between the HG group (13.5 (11.0–018.8) days) and the NoHG group (13.0 (9.0–18.8) days).
Conclusions Soccer headgear did not reduce the incidence or severity of SRC in high school soccer players.
Women after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and ACL reconstruction (ACLR) are more likely than men to exhibit asymmetric movement patterns, which are associated with post-traumatic osteoarthritis. We developed the ACL specialized post-operative return-to-sports (ACL-SPORTS) randomized control trial to test the effect of strength, agility, plyometric, and secondary prevention (SAPP) training with and without perturbation training (SAPP + PERT) on gait mechanics in women after ACLR. We hypothesized that movement symmetry would improve over time across both groups but more so among the SAPP + PERT group. Thirty-nine female athletes 3-9 months after primary ACLR were randomized to SAPP or SAPP + PERT training. Biomechanical testing during overground walking occurred before (Pre-training) and after (Post-training) training and one and two years post-operatively. Hip and knee kinematic and kinetic variables were compared using repeated measures ANOVA with Bonferroni corrections for post-hoc comparisons (α = 0.05). There was a time by limb interaction effect (p = .028) for peak knee flexion angle (PKFA), the primary outcome which powered the study, characterized by smaller PKFA in the involved compared to uninvolved limbs across treatment groups at Pre-training, Post-training, and one year, but not two years. Similar findings occurred across sagittal plane knee excursions and kinetics and hip extension excursion at midstance. There were no meaningful interactions involving group. Neither SAPP nor SAPP + PERT training improved walking mechanics, which persisted one but not two years after ACLR. Statement of Clinical Significance: Asymmetrical movement patterns persisted long after participants achieved symmetrical strength and functional performance, suggesting more time is needed to recover fully after ACLR.
… I generated a forecast for the tournament, using surface-specific Elo ratings for a field made up of the top 128 women in the official rankings. (The makeup of the actual draw will differ, but the exact qualifiers and wild cards typically don’t affect the results very much.) Reigning champ Simona Halep comes out on top, with a 22.2% chance of defending her title. Petra Kvitova is next, just above 10%, followed by Kiki Bertens, who narrowed missed double digits.
The forecast gives two more entrants a 5% chance at the title, five more a 3% or better probability, and another nine a 1% chance. That’s a total of 19 women (see below) with at least a 1-in-100 shot, including such underdogs as Anett Kontaveit and Petra Martic. Maria Sakkari, winner in Rabat and semi-finalist in Rome, is 20th favorite, just below the 1% threshold. There isn’t much to separate the players in the bottom half of this list, and when the draw dishes out shares of good and bad fortune, the order will surely shift.
… This week’s bonus episode of The Pay Check tackles pay equity in global women’s soccer. Host Rebecca Greenfield talks with Bloomberg sports business reporter Eben Novy-Williams about the U.S. women’s claim that they deserve equal pay for equal work, followed by a live taping from a panel at the Blomberg Equality Summit in London featuring English soccer legend Kelly Smith; head of the Women’s Super League, Kelly Simmons; and Lenah Ueltzen-Gabell, managing director of the Middle East and Europe for sports marketing agency Wasserman. [audio, 30:36]
With the majority of the 24 teams at the Women’s World Cup coached by men, the game needs to embrace the wealth of experience that female soccer coaches have to offer, former United States and Sweden coach Pia Sundhage told Reuters.
The Denver Post, The Washington Post, Rick Maese from
… “There were others like me,” she said, “just like me. Black like me, healthy like me, doing their best — just like me. They faced death like me, too.”
Felix spoke before the House Ways and Means Committee at a hearing focused on racial disparities in maternal mortality. She suffered from a case of severe preeclampsia and had an emergency Caesarean section 32 weeks into her pregnancy last November. The 33-year old sprinter was among six witnesses the committee heard from Thursday morning, joining doctors, academics and medical experts in outlining the risks and dangers faced disproportionately by African American women in pregnancy and childbirth.