I wrote less this year than I did in the past few but I still produced some things of which I am very proud:
The biggest story I wrote this year is titled “A Team of Their Own,” about an all-girls travel youth baseball team, Girls Travel Baseball (GTB). I had to pitch this story for about four months before an outlet finally took it. Not only did Bleacher Report like my idea, they even sent a film crew to help chronicle the team. And wow, did this piece become A. Thing. To the point where NBC Nightly News sent their own camera crew to cover GTB a few weeks after my piece published. I am honored and proud to say this piece is a Best Of for both Longreads and Longform in 2017.
Earlier this year, I was asked by Teen Vogue to put a package of pieces together about football to lead into the Super Bowl. Not only did I get to write a couple of them, including one on girls who play football (those were some of my favorite interviews I did this year), but I got to work with a handful of young female sportswriters as their editor. What a cool project.
I teamed up with Avital Norman Nathman to do a feature about Title IX and equity in sports, focusing on Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. While I know this isn’t the sexiest of stories, it is important. Title IX implementation is poor across the board, even in a place like Quinnipiac that has gotten in trouble legally for it in the recent past. We worked incredibly hard on this piece and I couldn’t be happier with the final product.
The fight for gender equity in sports at Quinnipiac over the last eight years — both in court and on the ground at the university — is indicative of this overall struggle. It was hard to get the legal victory, and once that was secured, it’s been difficult to get the consent decree enforced to the point of Carlson filing her recent complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.
This is now all thrown into relief against the backdrop of the new Trump administration. Indications suggest that the enforcement of Title IX will not get easier, and perhaps might even become much harder if the Department of Education does not prioritize it as it had done during the last presidential administration.
The hard and troublesome truth of this issue, though, is that female athletes are not asking for much. They want a place to practice free of rocks and potholes, a space large enough to run plays and host games. They want adequate resources like locker rooms that have sufficient space for teams and enough trainers to monitor their health. Often, they are simply requesting that their athletic departments and university administrators care about them and the sports they play — and show it.
Cook, who loves rugby and has given four years of her life to playing the sport for Quinnipiac, gets to the heart of this issue:
“I want [the administration] to be involved in the growth of our program. They’re so disaffiliated from all things rugby that it’s no wonder our student body doesn’t support us. You don’t even talk to us or know what we’re doing.”
I did a little bit of writing for the awesome women’s basketball site, The Summitt. I love this piece I wrote about Kelsey Plum’s debut.
In February, I had an op-ed at the New York Times (!!!) about the future of Title IX and fighting campus sexual assault under Trump’s administration:
Survivors can also influence institutions by telling their stories. Many have done so in recent years, often recounting their trauma repeatedly in the face of people criticizing them and picking apart their accounts. Educational institutions have made changes because of pressure from the civil rights office and court cases, but also because survivors have pointed out when they have failed and demanded more from them. In a time when social media provides many avenues for telling one’s story, that power to drive change will remain.
I had the fortunate opportunity to profile one of my favorite romance novelists this year, Alisha Rai, for Shondaland.
Finally, this isn’t technically writing but it is because of how much writing goes into the prep for every episode. Along with a group of my friends, I started a feminist sports podcast this year called Burn It All Down. We are incredibly proud of it.
I would love for you to give it a listen (iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or Tune In) and, if you like it, subscribe. Also, we have a Patreon, where you can become a monthly patron and get access to extra, exclusive BIAD content each month.
It’s truly a miracle that anyone anywhere was able to write or creatively produce anything this year, it feels like. I’m thankful for the support I get from so many corners of my life. Here’s to a fruitful, impactful, and professionally fulfilling 2018.