SUMMER 2014’S FIRST WOMEN

 

Maryam-Mirzakhani-Iranian-Woman-Win-Math-Top-Prize copyMiryam Mirzakhani, a professor at Stanford University, was the first woman and the first Iranian to earn the Fields Medal, the highest recognition in mathematics. Her understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces was noted in her award. Before she entered college, in 1994, she had already achieved a first: the first Iranian woman to win a gold medal in the International Mathematical Olympiad. The following year, she was the first Iranian student (male or female) to earn a perfect score and win two gold medals.

Becky Hammon was named assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. Although she is the second female assistant coach hired by the NBA, she is the first hired on a full-time basis. This makes her first in any of Becky-Hammon-Wallpapers-Latestthe four major professional sports (baseball, basketball, football and hockey).

kacy-1405606299Kacy Catanzaro, who is also known as Mighty Kacy, was the first woman to qualify for the finals on American Ninja Warrior. A gymnast, she is only five feet tall and weighs only 100 pounds. She proves that power is not related to size.

 

And. . .Mo’Ne Davis was the first girl to pitch a first shutout in Little League history (see my last blog).

Mo’Ne Davis – Little League Star

MO'NE DAVIS SPORTS ILLUSMo’Ne Davis was the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history. She was also the first Little Leaguer (boy or girl) to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She even has her own Wikipedia page.

She generated excitement for the game, with more viewers than ever before, and a positive note in baseball’s scandal-ridden recent past. She captured the imagination of other girls who long to step into her cleats. She surprised everyone when she said that basketball was really her sport.

What was most surprising, however, was the reaction of some male columnists who wrote she was receiving too much attention, that it would ruin her sports career, and that she should be in eighth grade not on tour. Really? Would they be writing the same words about a boy who had caused this much commotion?

Did they think about why she might have generated so much excitement? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, in the 67-year history of the Little League World Series, in which over 9,000 children have participated, girls have been almost invisible. In 1972 Maria Pepe, the first girl to make it to the series, was thrown out because the other teams objected to her presence. Only 18 girls have played in the series and, of those, only 4 were from the United States. In fact, there were only two girls from the United States until this unprecedented year, the first in which 2 girls played the series.

Mo’Ne’s responses to reporters show that she is a level-headed young woman as well as a talented athlete. It strikes me that she is, at fourteen, probably more mature than some of the men who are writing about her. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

The Worthy Endeavor of Kym Worthy

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 6.11.04 PMKym Worthy is responsible for turning national attention to the lack of concern on the parts of police and our communities for crimes of rape. Her efforts have received attention in national publications and her successes are promoting discussion.

She is the first woman and first African American to be appointed prosecutor in Wayne County, Michigan, which includes Detroit, the most violent city in the United States. Her office prosecutes 52% of all felonies in the state of Michigan. It has the tenth largest caseload in the country and yet its staff, due to serious cutbacks caused by the financial setbacks in Detroit, is one-quarter that of Los Angeles.

In spite of the limitations of her situation Kym Worthy has accomplished enough to earn numerous awards. Her tenacity and determination led her to successfully prosecute former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is currently in prison. She has many other achievements to her credit in this position. Among them:

–In 2007, after her persistence, the Wayne County Commission, for the first time, set aside funds for the protection of witnesses.

–She created the first Elder Abuse Unit in the county.

–She developed a “Change the Culture” program to support community policing in Detroit. The first public form to discuss the program drew 3,000 citizens and leaders from the city.

She has achieved national recognition, however, for response to a happenstance. In 2009 one of Kym Worthy’s assistants discovered more than 11,000 rape kits sitting in a warehouse, unprocessed. Herself a victim of rape, one she never reported, Worthy immediately sought funding to have the kits tested. She received a $1 million federal grant to test 153 kits. Although the process is costly, and slow, the results so far have been spectacular.

–Of the first 153 kits processed, there were DNA matches for 38 suspects, and 20 of those were identified as serial rapists

–Of the first 1,600 kits tested, two-thirds match a crime some place in the United States, “often a rape.”

–To date 3,230 rape kits have been tested. Of these 17% were found in the FBI data bank and 15% of those were serial rapists. Over 100 serial rapists have been identified as of last month.

There may be as many as 400,000 untested rape kits in this country. Congress is currently pressuring colleges and universities to improve their support systems for rape victims. While this effort is commendable, it focuses solely on those privileged young women who can pursue higher education. What might happen if they provided funding and training to test all the rape kits that have been ignored?

Yes, in some cases, the statue of limitations has expired, but as Kym Worthy has shown, many of the perpetrators have gone on to commit other, often sexual, crimes. Testing these kits would not only lead to punishment for the crimes against women. It would remove predators to women and promote their safety, not only in colleges and universities but also in inner city neighborhoods such as those in Detroit.

 

Kacy Catanzaro

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 11.10.27 AMIn the fifth season of American Ninja Warrior, Kacy Catanzaro was the first woman to complete the grueling course. After training for two years, the 5-foot, 100-lb, 24-year old woman thrilled supporters who quick created the hashtag #MightyKacy.

Alice Coachman, Olympic Gold Medalist

Alice CoachmALICE COACHMAN OLDERan, the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, died this week in her hometown of Albany, Georgia. She was 90 years old.

In 1948 Alice Coachman (a Woman of Note on this site, November 9, 2013) competed in the Olympics and won the high jump at the London Games. Alice believed she reached her peak in 1944 and might have won a gold medal that year, as well as in 1940, had the games not been cancelled because of the Second World War.

 

ALICE COACHMAN ATHLETEBecause of her race, and the fact that she lived in the South, Alice was barred from sports facilities because of her color. She improvised practice facilities, running along dirt roads and across fields. She also participated in other sports. At Tuskegee University, she was on a basketball team that won three straight conference titles.

When she returned from the London Olympics she met President Harry Truman at the White House followed by a 175-mile motorcade through Georgia to celebrate her victory. At the official ceremony in Albany, Georgia, however, the audience in the auditorium was segregated by race, the mayor did not shake her hand, and she was required to leave by a side door. Even her 25 national athletics championships, including 10 consecutive high jump titles could not overcome the color of her skin.

She was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975 and the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004. When her athletic career ended, she remembered her own hardships and created the Alice Coachman Track and Field Foundation, which provides financial assistance to needy young and retired athletes.