US Women’s Soccer Seeks $66 Million in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit, NBC Sports Produces All-Female NHL Broadcast, Female Wrestler Heaven Fitch Wins Title
U.S Women’s Soccer Seeks $66 Million in Damages in Their Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against U.S. Soccer Federation
By Reese Wolfe
U.S women’s national soccer team is seeking over $66 million in damages as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S Soccer Federation. The trial is scheduled to start May 5th at the U.S District Court in Los Angeles. Last March, players on the women’s national team sued the federation for inquetible pay between the men’s and women’s teams, highlighting the often overlooked gender discrimination on the field and in the work place. While the U.S soccer federation argued that the “Women’s national team players are paid differently because they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men’s national team, despite being offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations.” However, Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, disputed that the proposed ‘pay to play’ structure had less pay across the board. The lawsuit gained even more recognition when the U.S women’s soccer team went on to win the World Cup final last summer. In the lawsuit, U.S. soccer president, Carlos Cordeiro, claimed that the women’s national team has less “skill” and “responsibility” than their male counterparts. Many sponsors of the U.S. soccer federation, including Coca Cola, spoke out about their disappointment in the league. However, Cordeiro recently released a statement apologizing for his statement and dismissing it as incorrect and offensive. The U.S women’s soccer team continues to break down gender discrimination barriers everyday as they fight for equal pay on the field.
NBC Sports Produces the First All-Female NHL Broadcast
By Kate Kissell and Kiki Montgomery
NBC made hockey history after they produced the first all women broadcast in the U.S. This glorious event was aired and came as a celebration of International Women’s Day, where 30 women worked the game. The game was between the two teams, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blue, leaving everyone with excitement and eagerness to watch.
Once the first period had ended Kendall Coyne Schofield hurled herself over a large bench crowded with players in order to gain an interview with Jeremy Collition, the Chicago Blackhawks coach. Yet, behind the sidelines her fellow employees were left giggling, and cheering her on the whole time.
Producer Kaitlin Urka spoke her mind saying how she wished the game would go, saying, “I hope when fans watch this game, they see it as any other game.” She continued, “And I want people to think, this is something that they’re going to see all the time, eventually. I want to get to the point where we don’t need to make this a big deal. We don’t need people writing stories about it and we don’t need press releases and it’s just normalized.”
One day when A.J. Mleczko decided to bring her daughter into the truck of the Boston Bruins versus Toronto Maple Leafs series, she was shocked by her daughter’s immediate response after seeing it. Her daughter said, “It was cool, but where were all the women?”
Many of the women who work at NBC behind the scenes or on air were rarely seen working together. However, Urka’s bosses were confident of pursuing her idea, even from the beginning. When they began to plan this event they soon realized that it would be quite easy to fill a roster since Mleczko and Coyne Schofield, and Kathryn Tappen and Jennifer Botterill all work as hosts. However, they noticed it might be a little more difficult to find someone for a play-by-play position.
That’s when Kate Scott and other women in the business were contacted. Kate Scott is an up and coming star at NBC, calling basketball, football and just about everything else. She had never worked a hockey game.
Next in January Elyse Noonan, a VP at NBC Sports called Kate Scott and told her their plan. When Scott hung up, she felt the same way that she did when the San Francisco 49ers asked her to call preseason games back in 2016.
“I always raised an eyebrow at these all-women broadcasts before,” Scott admitted. “I was always supportive, because I knew it was steps in the right direction, but I was cynical that it was a publicity stunt.”
These fears of Scott’s were told to Dan Steir.
Scott said, “He said, ‘First of all, it’s not about you,'” and “He explained that there’s a lot of momentum right now with women’s hockey — with Kendall’s fastest lap [at last year’s All-Star skills competition], and then 3-on-3 at the All-Star Game [in 2020]. And they wanted to build on that momentum. They want to inspire that young woman who — maybe in the last couple years, since the 2018 [Team USA Olympic] gold medal may have started paying attention. Those girls may be thinking of ways to get involved with the sport, but might not see all of the options just yet. So what if we bring everybody together and show them the possibilities? You can be a gold medalist. You can also call the game. You can direct. You can produce it. You can be a camerawoman or a stage manager.” Scott was sold.
Scott was ready to take on this challenge even though her schedule wasn’t really set for this major step. Scott has covered three different basketball leagues and even traveled to eight cities after agreeing to the NHL broadcast. In order to be prepared for her hockey debut, Scott made sure to listen to Sirius XM in the morning so that she is able to speak fast and be concise with her words.
Scott was put through three test games that weren’t aired, before her big debut, one alone, one with Coyne Schofield, and finally one with Mleczko. These test’s helped Scott practice for the “real thing” on Sunday where she would be hosting with both Coyne Schofield and Mleczko by her side. Before Scott landed this job she graduated from Cal and only ever believed the job she could have in sports broadcasting was a sideline reporter, but now she and other women do much more.
Urka claims that she was “blown away” by the buzz and attention the broadcast generated.
“I think I was a little naive when I pitched it,” Urka said. “I just thought it’d be really cool to get to work with other women. I wasn’t even remotely thinking of the implications that it was going to have, of this being something that was history-making. Honestly, I just thought, gosh, I would love to get to work with these women. I don’t get to see them very often. There’s usually only a couple of us in a truck at a given time. How great would it be if we all got to be together to showcase our talent?” Sounds like a good idea to me.
16-Year-Old Heaven Fitch Becomes First Female To Win Wrestling Title In North Carolina
By Kate Kissell
Heaven Fitch, 16, has become an inspirational role model to many women and girls around the world since she has become the first female to succeed in winning a North Carolina high school wrestling title.
Growing up with three older brothers can be hard for a young girl, however, her siblings definitely positively impacted and helped her become this amazing wrestler. Heaven started to follow in her brother’s footsteps when she was just six years old and now has become the first women in North Carolina to win an individual state men’s wrestling championship.
Heaven is going into 12th grade at Uwharrie Charter Academy where she is leaving behind her incredible record of 54-4 in 11th grade just last year. Although she is the only girl on her team of 26 kids, she definitely makes a big impact and was even named the Most Outstanding Wrestler for North Carolina’s 1A division. Since there are very few other women competing against Fitch she estimates that 95% of her matches have been against boys in all of the 11 years she has been competing. She told the Guardian, “It definitely feels pretty good to pin a guy.”
From a young age, Fitch can remember watching WWE pro wrestling with her siblings and recreating those intense matches wherever they could find time and room. When Fitch finally asked her parents if she could join the kids’ wrestling team as the only girl so far, they didn’t hesitate to sign her up. “My parents are probably the ones who pushed me the most,” Fitch said. “They always encouraged me.” She pushed hard to be the best and wrestled right next to her brothers.
Even when her school season ended, Fitch and her siblings continued to practice five days a week and competed in a continuous track of junior tournaments that eventually led to Olympic contention. She tried her hardest and even said, “every Saturday there would be a tournament, and sometimes I’d be back in the wrestling room on Sundays.”
Later when Fitch and her family decided to move from the Charlotte area to Asheboro, her parents thought it would be a good idea to meet with her new coach, Chris Waddell. They wanted to ensure that she would be able to succeed at her new school and a new program. “You could tell she was talented right away,” Waddell said. “She was one of the hardest workers, if not the hardest worker on the team.”
Walking into a wrestling room full of boys wasn’t anything new for Fitch, though it still made her nervous. It’s always scary to go to a new school and even more scary to once again be on a new team of all boys, however, this was nothing new for Fitch. Fitch said that her wrestler partner was very helpful and even put her through her paces. Fitch eventually showed how hard she works and won the respect of the boys on her team.
Fitch is only 102 lbs and wrestles in the 106 lb division, although she doesn’t have to cut weight like many other wrestlers, there is a disadvantage for her to gain back extra pounds simply from dehydration and lots of liquids. Recently the weight limit has been increased to 110 lbs within regulation, which really meant that Fitch would be against at most 115 lb boys when dehydrated. “She’s mentally tough,” Waddell said. “At this age, I think the only thing that’s equal to the boys is core strength. Everything else – leg strength, arm strength – the boys will be stronger.” However, Fitch learned to prove herself and even helped the team out with their 41-0 season last year.
Fitch has shown to be a gender inspiration and has even gained the attention of many heavy media and news outlets around the country. One photo of Fifth standing first place at the podium even went viral.
“Last year people didn’t know who she was and they shook their heads when she came out,” Waddell said. “This year everybody knows her.”
Although all the attention has been great for Fitch, it still hasn’t distracted her from her goal to study medicine in college, with her potential focus in psychiatry, psychology or biology. “I know I could continue to wrestle in college, but it’s juggling the academics that I need with being able to do this,” Fitch said.
Fitch continues to be a straight-A student, sings and even plays the ukulele. Fitch’s coach believes she is destined to go to a great college and may even gain an academic scholarship to the University of North Carolina, which is home to some of the stronger men’s teams in the country. Although there is no women’s team there, many other female national team competitors train there.
In Fitch’s off season, she will be picking up her training once again for the world team trials. She has been and will be a constant role model as one girl from the local middle school team will join her next year and six more girls will follow after them.
“Heaven is one of a kind,” Waddell said. “A great wrestler, a great musician. Most important, she’s a good person.”