Women in Sports: Female Athletes are Changing the Game

By Abby Cope


Female athletes are blazing trails across Alabama and beyond. It’s hard to imagine a time before women were allowed to play sports, but it is an important reminder of how far we’ve come as female athletes.


There have always been collegiate female athletes dominating the game across different sports. However, it wasn’t until 1981 that the NCAA started recognizing women’s athletic programs, after having been established and regulating men’s programs for 75 years. Since the official start of women’s collegiate athletic programs, there have been countless all-star athletes who have been able to play at the level they deserve. This change by the NCAA, commonly known as Title IX, has positively impacted women in sports every day since its passing.


Fast forward 45 years and women’s sports overall are just beginning to get the recognition they deserve. This past year, women’s athletic programs across the country, and the world, are breaking barriers and glass ceilings alike. This time just last year, the University of Nebraska versus the University of Nebraska-Omaha drew in an enormous crowd for the teams’ volleyball matchup. A world-record-setting 92,003 fans filled Memorial Stadium, setting a record for the highest-attended women’s sporting game ever. Coach John Cook said, “It’s a great accomplishment for a sport like volleyball played by women.”


However, such high-level performance can create some even higher-level pressure. Reports of lack of on-court protection from her teammates and excessive scrutiny from onlookers are overflowing online. In only her first three weeks of playing for the Indiana Fever, Clark has already begun to deactivate social media accounts.


Clark remains steadfast and focused throughout her WNBA journey, and it’s all about perspective.


“There’s so many people that would love to be in my position or would love to have this opportunity,” Clark says. “I get to do this as my job, like how lucky am I? Sometimes that’s hard to remind yourself of and put everything in perspective, but that’s what I try to do, and I think at the same time that kind of takes the pressure off and really allows me to have fun and just keep playing the game I love.”


And Clark isn’t the only one who’s changing their mindset. A recent post on X by user @Kalie623 says, “One of the boys in my PE class just yelled ‘Caitlin Clark’ as he took a deep 3. We’re in a new era, people. Everyone watches women’s sports.”


The notion that men’s and women’s sports are unequal is finally fading away- even at the elementary level.


The University of Alabama has over 400 female athletes on its various Division 1 teams. UA has quite the array of athletics programs, including Lockett Bowley’s personal favorite: the swimming and diving team.


Bowley is a junior studying psychology and an all-star athlete. Swimming for almost 13 years now, Bowley is no stranger to hard work and dedication. She describes a typical day as a D-1 swimmer with morning and afternoon swimming sessions, as well as weightlifting.


With the already full schedule of a college student, Bowley’s determination to excel in her sport is no easy task. Professional-level women’s sports aren’t the only ones that come with unsolicited opinions from fans, but Bowley, like Clark, says her mindset is what turned it all around for her.


“I would say the biggest accomplishment I’ve made is being able to change my mindset when it comes to not meeting self-set expectations. Just being able to learn from my mistakes and seeing where I can improve,” Bowley says.


A mindset that changes the narrative of overanalyzing ourselves to an understanding that we are all human can be a game-changer.


Female athletes are strong. They have strength that exceeds the physicality required for their sports. They are strong enough to stand their ground and prove that they deserve a seat at the table and a spot on the roster, just as much as male athletes. This year, UA had six female athletes punch their tickets for the 2024 Paris Olympics.


Playing sports is an opportunity to be able to pursue one’s athletic dreams and push one’s limits to the furthest – an opportunity that is as achievable for women as it is for men.


My name’s Abby, and I’m a senior Public Relations major and Creative Writing minor. I’ve always loved writing, and coming to college has allowed me to flourish in that passion! Joining ALICE Magazine as a contributing writer my sophomore year was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to find an amazing community of women and have several works published. I can’t wait to continue my journey as a  Features Editor and see where my career takes me!