Empowering the next generation of women in sports in South Dakota

Published: Jul. 31, 2022 at 11:40 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Equality in women’s sports took a big step forward 50 years ago when Title IX was passed. But, even though female athletes have come a long way, there is still work to be done in this nation.

Now, collegiate athletes in the area are taking it upon themselves to empower the next generation of women. Photojournalist Sam Tastad has the story, and you will only see it on Dakota News Now.

“Our daughters are what brought us together a decade ago, and soccer is a sport that has created that bond,” said Sioux Falls City FC co-owner Melissa Nelson.

“I really wanted to do this because ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to play on a team like this,” said Sioux Falls City FC player Ella Smith. “I hope that little girls see me and that they can accomplish this as well.”

“We’re celebrating and empowering women who have to think about what woman has inspired them,” said Sioux Falls FC co-owner Emily Thomas.

“Mya Moore, we shared the name, so I thought that was cool,” said South Dakota State senior Myah Selland.

“Mine was Lindsay Whalen being a Minnesota girl. So, it was surreal playing them in the WNIT tournament,” said SDSU junior Tori Nelson.

“I thought as a kid I want to be on that big screen to have little girls look up to me,” said Smith.

“Empower not only our girls but all young women. Title IX was a big deal, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Melissa Nelson.

“50 years of Title IX, it’s crazy that it had to something to come in effect to allow women the opportunities we have,” said former WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings. “We talk about what impact and what South Dakota and having women’s sports being visible and successful.”

“It’s such an honor to have a women’s sport be like a priority, to be the big deal around town,” said Sioux Falls FC player Jozy Bardsley. “Our first game, there was a fan section of youth players. When we were that young like we didn’t have this specific opportunity. We had to go somewhere else. We had to go see a huge stadium and then just to be able to go to the USF stadium and see an idol or role model, it gives me chills to think about that could have been you as a kid.”

“We have to be a voice. We have to promote these young girls and women to give them opportunities and them to speak up to create more equity,” said Melissa Nelson.

“We had great role models growing up and that not only shaped me as a basketball player I am, but the person I am. I think it’s just super important to do that for the next generation of girls,” said Tori Nelson.

“Having that connection with little kids like they think we are superstars just because they see us pursuing stuff, conquering our goals and dreams,” said Bardsley.

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