Over seven million people watched the three games of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four with over three-and-a-half million people watching Baylor win its third national championship by beating defending champions Notre Dame 82-81.
The past three Final Fours in the women’s game have been thrilling from start to finish. In 2017, Mississippi State stunned an unbeaten UConn squad by a game-winning shot at the buzzer. The following year, Notre Dame star Arike Ogumbawale hit back-to-back game-winning shots to take down UConn in the Final Four and in the National Championship game against Mississippi State.
This year, Baylor’s Chloe Jackson nailed a layup that gave the Lady Bears a two-point lead with six seconds to go. Ogumbawale, the hero of last year’s tournament, was fouled driving to the basket on the next possession. Ogumbawale would miss the first free throw and while trying to intentionally miss the second so that Notre Dame had a chance to get a put back, she made it.
Anyone that calls themselves a sports fan would agree that the past few tournaments have indeed almost as, if not more, entertaining than the men’s tournament. However, as entertaining and memorable as the past few NCAA Women’s Tournaments have been, perhaps one of the most memorable moments of the tournament was Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw give a heartfelt and honest speech about women in leadership roles and gender equality.
“I am getting tired of the novelty of ‘the first female governor of this state’, ‘the first female African-American mayor of this city’,” said McGraw in a press conference before the 2019 Final Four. “When is it going to become the norm instead of the exception?”
Cari Rosiek, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator at Coastal Carolina, gave her thoughts on McGraw’s empowering speech.
“I think she was spot-on,” said Rosiek. “She was very factual and poignant in her response. I think she was spot on in a lot of ways, I agree with a lot of the conversation. I do truly believe that there needs to be more opportunity for females in this industry as well as other industries in our country.”
It seems that every time a new election comes around in this country, more women are throwing their hat into the ring and wanting to make a difference in their community and be a voice for their constituents. However, with more women participating in elections, women still only make up for 23 percent of the House of Representatives and only a quarter of the Senate.
“I fully believe in hiring the best person for the job,” said Rosiek. “And I believe that gender should not be a reason to deny or accept someone for a position.”
Rosiek, a former softball player here at Coastal Carolina, addressed the topic that women’s sports are not as entertaining as men’s sports.
“I think ESPN has done a tremendous job in pushing women’s sports,” said Rosiek. “ESPNU, ESPN Women and ESPN Plus have really given more national recognition of our sports. I think you are also seeing student-athletes’ ability to perform at a much higher level.”
Rosiek says that social media has really helped in getting women’s sports more attention.
Rylee Atteberry, a current women’s soccer player for Coastal Carolina, believes that while there are reports that people are becoming more interested in women’s sports, the interest has already been there.
“I think interested is the wrong word,” said Atteberry. “People have been always been interested; it just has never been a fad that people are like ‘oh yeah I am going to go to a women’s game’. People are finally coming to the realization that this is still sports and it is still interesting to watch.”
Atteberry said that she has a friend back home whose dad takes his daughter to a women’s game for her birthday every year. Another man that enjoys taking his family to women’s games is five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant.
Bryant is constantly seen at Los Angeles Sparks games during the WNBA season.
Atteberry talked about what it is like to have support from some of the biggest male athletes in the world.
“I think it is very admirable of them, to be able to swallow your pride as a man and be like ‘these ladies are dope’,” said Attebery. “Both male and female athletes go through the same stuff. We both go to the same six AM conditioning, the same five-thirty weights. It is not unknown that we do this stuff.”
Coastal Carolina is a hot bed for incredible female talent. Softball is currently having one of their best seasons since their days in the Big South. Women’s basketball made their first postseason tournament appearance in program history. Women’s lacrosse has been in the Atlantic Sun Championship game the past two seasons.
These ladies deserve our support just as much as the support we give to baseball, football and men’s basketball. It is time that we put gender aside and start supporting each other.