Women Sports Speakers Who Will Dominate the Next Decade

Women have broken numerous barriers in all sports in 2020. In a major college football game, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to score. Becky Hammon made history by becoming the first female head coach in an NBA game. The WNBA and its players’ union signed a landmark eight-year collective agreement that included higher wages and benefits for players on maternity leave. Kim Ng was also appointed as the first woman general manager in Major League Baseball.

What has become obvious is that last year was the start of a major movement. Women will continue what they started this year, and perhaps for the next decade and beyond. Here are some of the women sports speakers who will lead sports in the next ten years:

Michele Roberts

Michele Roberts is the National Basketball Players Association’s executive director and sports motivational speaker. Roberts was the first woman in North America to lead a major professional sports union in 2014. She announced her retirement from her role in March 2020, but when the NBA season was halted due to the pandemic, Roberts postponed her plans to better assist the players she serves. Not only was Roberts instrumental in the NBA’s ability to play during the pandemic, but she also helped to form protocols that kept these players safe. Roberts also assisted the league with social justice messaging and facilitated financial negotiations.

Sarah Thomas

After completing her sixth season in the NFL, Sarah Thomas became the first woman to serve as a down judge in the Super Bowl. “Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl. Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor,” said Troy Vincent Sr., NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Thomas’s path to the Super Bowl 55 exemplifies how influential and diverse officiating crews can be. Thomas truly laid the foundation for women who aspire to be NFL game officials.  Most recently, she led the way for women sports speakers by delivering the commencement at her alma mater, the University of Mobile.

Cynthia Marshall

In 2018, the Dallas Mavericks recruited Cynthia Marshall, the NBA’s first Black woman CEO. Marshall was hired by the owner, Mark Cuban, to help restore a toxic workplace environment. Marshall has led the Mavericks to become the league’s benchmark for diverse and inclusive initiatives as the first Black woman to lead an NBA team. She also launched a 100-day plan to construct a non-hostile work environment only a few weeks after joining the team. When Marshall was elected Chief Executive Officer, there were no women or people of color on the executive leadership team. Today’s executive team is made up of 50% women and 47% people of color. “I want to make sure I do a good job, be a good role model and show that it shouldn’t be unusual for a Black woman to be in a job like this," said Marshall.

Becky Hammon

In August 2014, Becky Hammon became the first woman to be hired as a full-time assistant coach in any of the four North American major men’s professional sports leagues when she was hired by the San Antonio Spurs. She made history when she stepped in for head coach Gregg Popovich after he was ejected in the first half of the Spurs-Lakers game last season; she became the first woman to be the head coach during a regular-season NBA game. Hammon is on her way to officially become a full-time NBA head coach, likely occurring within the next decade.

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