This is a timeline of women's sports in the United States.
1864 – The Park Place Croquet Club of Brooklyn organized with 25 members. Croquet is probably the first game played by both women and men in America.
1866 – Vassar College fielded the first two women's amateur baseball teams.
1874 – Mary Ewing Outerbridge of Staten Island introduced tennis to the United States. She purchased tennis equipment in Bermuda (and had trouble getting it through Customs) and used it to set up the first US tennis court at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club that spring.
1875 – The "Blondes" and "Brunettes" played their first match in Springfield, Illinois on Sept. 11. Newspapers heralded the event as the "first game of baseball ever played in public for gate money between feminine ball-tossers."
1875 – Wellesley College opened with a gymnasium for exercising and a lake for ice skating and the first rowing program for women.
1887 – Ellen Hansell was crowned the first Women's Singles tennis champion at the U.S. Open.
1889 – The first women's six-day bicycle race ended at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
1893 - The cricket match that Rosemary Hall hosted in Wallingford in 1893 against Mrs. Hazen's School of Pelham Manor, N.Y. has been described as "the first interscholastic girls sporting event in American history."
1895 – The first Women's Amateur Golf championship was contested among 13 golfers at the Meadow Brook Club, Hempstead, N.Y., on Nov. 9. The match was won by Mrs. Charles S. Brown with a 132 and the runner-up is Nellie Sargent.
1895 – The first organized athletics meeting was generally recognized as the "Field Day" at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY, on Nov. 9. A group of "nimble, supple and vivacious girls" engaged in running and jumping events despite bad weather.
1895 – The first women's softball team was formed at Chicago's West Division High School. They did not have a coach for competitive play until 1899.
1900 – The Olympics first allowed women. Margaret Abbott won a gold medal in golf; she was the first American woman to take first place in an Olympic event.
1901- Constance M.K, at Harvard University, introduced field hockey to the women of the United States.
1909 – Alice Huyler Ramsey became the first woman to drive across the United States.
1911 – Helene Britton was the first woman to own a major league team. She was the head director of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1911 to 1917.
1923 – The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) sponsored the first national championships for women in track and field
1926 – The Amateur Athletic Union sponsored the first-ever national women's basketball championship.
1926 – New York City native Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel, which she did in fourteen hours, thirty-one minutes, beating the best time to date.
1926 – Rosabelle Sinclair, established the first women's lacrosse team in the United States at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland in 1926.
1931 – Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned women from professional baseball. He felt that he needed to after a seventeen-year-old pitcher Virne Beatrice “Jackie” Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game.
1932 – Babe Didrikson was named Associate Press Woman Athlete of the Year for track and field after she scored enough points at the AAU national meet to win the team championship by herself. She scored thirty points, eight points more than the whole second place team earned.
1936 – The All American Red Heads Team, a barnstorming troupe similar to the Bloomer Girls, was formed. It is generally regarded as the first women's professional basketball team.
1936 – Ruth Hughes Aarons was the first American that won the world singles table tennis championship.
1937 – Grace Hudowalski was the ninth person and first woman to climb all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks.
1941 – The first women's intercollegiate lacrosse game was held between Sweet Briar College and The College of William and Mary in 1941.
1947 - The first Amateur Athletic Union-sanctioned weightlifting competition for women was held.
1949 – Marcenia Lyle Alberga was the first woman to play a full season in a professional men's baseball league.
1949 – Sara Christian became the first female NASCAR driver, racing in the inaugural NASCAR race at Charlotte Speedway, even though she had Bob Flock finish the race. In the second official race at Daytona Beach and Road Course, also in 1949, Christian was joined by Ethel Mobley and Louise Smith, with Mobley finishing ahead of the 3, at 11th.
1949- Toni Stone (also known as Marcenia Lyle Alberga) joined the San Francisco Sea Lions.
1950 - The Ladies Professional Golf Association was founded.
1950 – Kathryn Johnston, only twelve years old, was the first girl to play Little League Baseball. She played for the King's Dairy team in Corning, NY. Kathryn played at first base for the season, but then had to stop because of her age (she turned 13.) After that, a rule prohibited girls from playing in Little League; this was in force until 1974.
1952 – Patricia McCormick began bullfighting as a professional Matadora in January 1952, and was the first American to do so.
1952 – Major League Baseball's ban on the signing of women to contracts began; it ended in 1992.
1953 – Toni Stone, also known by her married name Marcenia Lyle Alberga, was the first of three women to play Negro league baseball, and thus the first woman to play as a regular on an American big-league professional baseball team.
1961 – The WIBC Queens all-female tenpin bowling tournament is first established.
1967 – Kathrine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered entry.
1968 - Kathryn Kusner became the first licensed female jockey in the United States.
1970 – Mary Jo Peppler of the United States was voted the most outstanding volleyball player in the world at the International Games in Bulgaria.
1971 – Cheryl White, an American, became the first black female jockey.
1971 – The Amateur Athletic Union ruled that "certain women" could take part in marathons, provided they either started their race 10 minutes before or after the men or on a different starting line. The different starting line requirement was dropped in 1972.
1972 – Nina Kuscsik became the first woman to officially win the Boston Marathon.
1973 - The Women’s Tennis Association was founded in June.
1973 – The US Open was the first Grand Slam tennis tournament to offer equal prize money for women and men.
1973 – Terry Williams Munz became the first woman in America awarded an athletic scholarship when she accepted a golf scholarship from the University of Miami.
1974 – The Women's Sports Foundation was created by Billie Jean King. It is "a charitable educational organization dedicated to increasing the participation of girls and women in sports and fitness and creating an educated public that supports gender equity in sport." The first women's professional football league (WPFL) kicks off its inaugural season with seven teams.
1974 – Lanny Moss was the first woman to manage a professional men's baseball team. She was hired by the minor league Portland Mavericks.
1977 – Shirley Muldowney was the first woman to win a NHRA championship, in the Top Fuel category.
1979 – At the Pan-American Games the United States Women's National Team won the gold medal.
1980 – The first woman to run a mile under four and a half minutes was Mary Decker.
1982 – The National Collegiate Athletic Association began sponsoring women's basketball.
1984 – Joan Benoit of the U.S. won the first Olympic marathon for women.
1985 – The United States national soccer team was formed.
1986 – Ann Bancroft was the first woman to reach the North Pole by foot and dogsled, "...she became the first known woman to cross the ice to the North Pole."
1986 – Nancy Lieberman joined the United States Basketball League (USBL), thus becoming the first woman to play in a men's professional basketball league.
1987 – Tania Aebi completed a solo circumnavigation of the globe in a 26-foot sailboat between the ages of 18 and 21, making her the first American woman to sail around the world.
1987 – The [American] National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) is an annual day of observance held during the first week of February to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, recognize the influence of sports participation for women and girls, and honor the progress and continuing struggle for equality for women in sports.
1987 – Each year since its inception in 1987, the United States Congress recognizes women's contributions to sports and society on a day during the first week of February.
1992 – Major League Baseball lifted the ban on the signing of women to contracts, a ban that had existed since 1952.
1992 – Manon Rhéaume, from Canada, became the first woman to play in a National Hockey League game, which also made her the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues; she played for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues, and stopped seven of nine shots.
1993 – Sherry Davies became the first woman public address announcer in major league baseball, working for the San Francisco Giants.
1993 – USA Boxing officially lifted its ban on women's boxing in October 1993.
1995 – Ila Borders was the first woman to pitch in a men's collegiate baseball game.
1996 – Dot Richardson hit the first home run in Olympic softball history, helping the U.S. softball team win the gold medal.
1997 – The WNBA began.
1999 – The United States women's national soccer team won its second FIFA Women's World Cup tournament after defeating China in penalty kicks in front of 90,185 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
2000 – Following the success of the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, the first professional soccer league for women in the United States, Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), was launched featuring several players from the national soccer team.
2001 – Stephanie Ready was the first female coach of a men's professional league team in 2001, as an assistant coach for the now defunct Greenville Groove of the National Basketball Development League (the minor league of the National Basketball Association).
2003 – The Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) folded. Neither television ratings nor attendance met forecasts, while the league spent its initial $40 million budget, planned to last five years, by the end of the first season.
2003 - Katie Hnida became the first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A game, college football's highest level, on August 30, 2003.
2005 – The organizers of the New York City Marathon announced they would be rewarding the female champion $130,000, that is $30,000 more than its male winner received. This may be the first time a sporting event ever paid more to a female than a male in the same competition. It is also the largest first prize for any marathon.
2006 – Violet Palmer, forty-one, became the first woman to referee an NBA playoff game.
2008 – Danica Patrick was the first woman to win an IndyCar Series by winning the 2008 Indy Japan 300.
2009 – Nancy Lieberman became the coach of the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League, an affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, thus making her the first woman to coach a professional men's basketball team.
2009 – The second professional women's soccer league, Women's Professional Soccer, was launched.
2010 – Kelly Kulick won the 2010 PBA Tournament of Champions, where she was the first-ever female competitor in the field. This also made her the first woman to win any Professional Bowlers Association Tour event that was also open to men.
2012 – The Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), the second professional women's soccer league in the United States, suspends operations citing several internal organization struggles as the primary cause, including an ongoing legal battle with ex-franchise owner Dan Borislow, and the lack of resources invested into the league.
2012 – The National Women's Soccer League, the third professional women's soccer league in the United States, launches with eight teams across the United States. The 2016 season marks the first time an American women's professional soccer league continues running beyond three years.
2013- Danica Patrick was the first woman to win the pole for the Daytona 500 and became the first woman to lead the Daytona 500, and finishes 8th in the event highest finish for a woman in that event.
2013 – On March 1, 2013, Privateers owner and president Nicole Kirnan served as the team's coach for the first time, making her the first woman to coach a professional hockey team in the United States.
2014 – On May 31, 2014, it was announced that women could compete in medieval combat as a sport for the first time, and later that year Amy Graham was crowned medieval combat world champion at the IMCF (International Medieval Combat Federation) world championship. That year she also won the championship medal for the USA Valkyrie Melee Team.
2014 – Anne B. France won the inaugural Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
2014 – Gabrielle Augustine pitched the final two innings for Hunter's Inn, thus becoming the first woman to play in the Glenwood Baseball League, which is the longest-running amateur baseball league in the United States, founded in 1920.
2014 - On August 15, 2014, Mo'ne Davis was the first girl in Little League World Series history to pitch a winning game for the Taney Dragons and earned the win, which also made her the first girl to pitch a shutout in Little League postseason history.
2014 – Michele A. Roberts was elected as the new Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association, thus making her the first woman to be elected to the highest position of a major sport's players association within the United States.
2014 – Becky Hammon became the first full-time female coach in the NBA – and the first full-time female coach in any of the four major professional sports in America – as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
2014 – Kelly Xu, of Santa Monica, Calif., won the girls 7-9 division in the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship, thus becoming the first female champion ever crowned at Augusta National Golf Club.
2015 – The winning United States women's national soccer team defeated former champions Japan 5–2 in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, led by a hat trick by Carli Lloyd. The team was honored with a historic ticker tape parade in New York City, marking the first time a women's sports team was celebrated in the city's Canyon of Heroes.
2015 – Jennifer Welter became the first woman hired to coach in men's pro football when the Texas Revolution of the Champions Indoor Football league announced that Welter was hired to coach linebackers and special teams.
2015 – The first three African-Americans to place in the top three spots at the 100 yard freestyle in any Women's Division I NCAA Swimming Championship were: Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, and Natalie Hinds in that order.
2015 – On May 21, 2015, the United Women's Lacrosse League was co-founded in Boston, Massachusetts by Digit Murphy and Aronda Kirby of the Play It Forward Sports Foundation in a strategic partnership with STX.
2015 – McKenna Haase became the first woman to win a feature Sprint Car race at Knoxville Raceway.
2015 – On July 3, 2015, the Spurs (of the NBA) announced that Becky Hammon would be the team's Summer League head-coach, the first female to head-coach in that league. The Spurs won the NBA Las Vegas Summer League title in 2015 with her as head coach.
2015 – On July 27, 2015, the Arizona Cardinals hired Jennifer Welter as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason; as such, she is believed to be the first female coach in the NFL.
2015 – At the World Championships, Katie Ledecky became the first swimmer to win the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyles in a major competition.
2015 – Sarah Thomas was hired as the first full-time female official in NFL history.
2015 – Stephanie Ready was named as the first full-time female NBA game analyst.
2015 – Justine Siegal became the Oakland Athletics guest instructor for their Instructional League Club, thus making her the first female coach in professional baseball history.
2015 – Jessica Mendoza, John Kruk, and Dan Shulman called the 2015 American League Wild Card Game on October 6, and thus Mendoza became the first female analyst in Major League Baseball postseason history.
2015 – The Raleigh Flyers of the American Ultimate Disc League signed the first ever female professional ultimate frisbee player, Jessi Jones, to play in their game against the Nashville Nightwatch. Jones, who was a team USA U-23 player in 2013, was signed as part of "Women's Ultimate Day".
2016 – Breanna Stewart was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four (making her the first person to be most outstanding player of the Final Four four times).
2016 – With their eleventh championship win in 2016, the UConn Huskies passed the UCLA Bruins men's team for most college basketball championships, and became the first Division 1 women's basketball team to win four straight national championships.
2016 – Catherine "Cat" Conti fired by Pac-12 Conference and released from NFL Officiating Development Program.
2016 – Samantha Rapoport was hired by the NFL as the Director of Football Development, charged with increasing female participation with the league.
2017 – The Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team obtained the longest winning streak in college basketball (both men's and women's), 111 straight wins, which started with a win against Creighton on December 23, 2014, and continued for 111 games until March 31, 2017, when they were beaten 66-64 on a last second shot in overtime by Mississippi State in the 2017 NCAA Final Four. This streak included an undefeated season in 2015–16.
2020 - Sabrina Ionescu became the first college basketball player to collect 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds, playing for the Oregon Ducks, during her college career at the University of Oregon.
2020 - Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power Five football game when she took the opening kickoff of the second half of the Vanderbilt Commodores' game against the Missouri Tigers with a 30 yard squib kick on November 28, 2020. (It is important to note that the term “Power Five” was not in use when Katie Hnida became the first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A game, college football's highest level, on August 30, 2003. )
2020 - On December 12, 2020, Sarah Fuller kicked an extra point following a first-quarter touchdown in the Vanderbilt Commodores’ game against Tennessee, making her the first woman to score a point in a Power Five football game.
2020 - After Gregg Popovich was ejected in the second quarter in the Spurs' 121-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on December 30, 2020, Hammon became the first female acting head coach in NBA history.
Women's gridiron football, more commonly known as women's American football, women's Canadian football, or simply women's football, is a form of gridiron football played by women. Most leagues play by the same rules as their male counterparts, with one exception: women's leagues use a slightly smaller football. Women primarily play on a semi-professional or amateur level in the United States. Very few high schools or colleges offer the sport solely for women and girls. However, on occasion, it is permissible for a female player to join the otherwise male team.
Lynette Woodard is a retired American basketball Hall of Fame player and former head women's basketball coach at Winthrop University. Woodard made history by becoming the first female member of the Harlem Globetrotters and who, at age 38, began playing as one of the oldest members in the newly formed American women's professional basketball league, the WNBA.
Dawn Michelle Staley is an American basketball Hall of Fame player and coach. Staley is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and was elected to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics. After playing point guard for the University of Virginia under Debbie Ryan, and winning the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, she went to play professionally in the American Basketball League and the WNBA. In 2011, Staley was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history. Staley was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. She was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
Rebecca Lynn Hammon is an American-Russian professional basketball coach and former player who is an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA). A three-time All-American basketball player for the Colorado State Rams, Hammon went on to play for the San Antonio Stars and New York Liberty of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and for several other teams outside the United States. Hammon, who was born and raised in the United States, became a naturalized Russian citizen in 2008 and represented the Russian national team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Nancy Elizabeth Lieberman, nicknamed "Lady Magic", is an American former professional basketball player and coach in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) who is currently a broadcaster for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA) as well as the head coach of Power, a team in the BIG3 which she led to its 2018 Championship. Lieberman is regarded as one of the greatest figures in American women's basketball.
Sports in the United States are an important part of culture in the United States. American football is the most popular spectator sport to watch in the United States, followed by baseball, basketball, and ice hockey, which make up the "4 major sports". Soccer, indoor soccer, indoor American football, Rugby union, Rugby league, tennis, golf, auto racing, softball, field lacrosse, box lacrosse, handball, volleyball, cricket, Australian rules football, field hockey, and water polo are also played in the country. Based on Olympic Games, World Championships, and other major competitions in respective sports, the United States is one of the most successful sports nations in the world.
Sports in Louisville, Kentucky include amateur and professional sports in baseball, football, horse racing, horse shows, ice hockey, soccer and lacrosse. The city of Louisville and the Louisville metropolitan area have a sporting history from the mid-19th century to the present day.
Professional athletes are distinguished from amateur athletes by virtue of being paid enough to earn a living. Throughout the world, most top female athletes are not paid, and work full-time or part-time jobs in addition to their training, practice and competition schedules. Women's professional sports organizations defy this trend. Such organizations are relatively new, and are most common in very economically developed countries, where investors are available to buy teams, and businesses can afford to sponsor them in exchange for publicity and promotion of their products. Very few governments support professional sports, male or female.
The Valparaiso Crusaders are the athletic teams from Valparaiso University, often referred to as Valpo, in Valparaiso, Indiana, United States. The Crusaders compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division I level and are members of the Missouri Valley Conference in all sports except football, bowling, men's tennis, and men's swimming.
Boston, the capital city of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and largest city in New England, is home to several major league sports teams. They include the Red Sox (baseball), the Celtics, and the Bruins. The New England Patriots and the New England Revolution (soccer) play at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxborough. The New England Free Jacks play at Union Point Sports Complex in nearby Weymouth. Several Boston-area colleges and universities are also active in college athletics.
The St. John's Red Storm is the nickname used for the 16 varsity athletic programs of St. John's University, in the U.S. state of New York. St. John's 16 NCAA Division I teams compete in the Big East Conference, with the exception of the fencing team, which compete in the ECAC. On December 15, 2012, St. John's and the other six Catholic, non-FBS schools announced that they were departing the former Big East for a new conference. The "Catholic 7", after purchasing the "Big East" name from the FBS schools and adding Butler, Creighton, and Xavier, began operating as the new Big East Conference beginning in July 2013.
Lusia Harris-Stewart is a former American basketball player. Harris is considered to be one of the pioneers of women's basketball. She played for Delta State University and won three consecutive Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Championships, the predecessors to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships, from 1975 to 1977. In international level, she represented the United States' national team and won the silver medal in the 1976 Olympic Games, the first women's basketball tournament in the Olympic Games. She played professional basketball with the Houston Angels of the Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL) and was the first and only woman ever officially drafted by the National Basketball Association (NBA), a men's professional basketball league. For her achievements, Harris has been inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos are the intercollegiate athletic teams who represent the University of California, Santa Barbara. Referred to in athletic competition as UC Santa Barbara or UCSB, the Gauchos participate in 19 NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports with the majority competing in the Big West Conference. UCSB currently fields varsity teams in 10 men's sports and 9 women's sports.
The Furman Paladins are the varsity athletic teams representing Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, in intercollegiate athletics.
Women have a long history in American baseball and many women's teams have existed over the years. Baseball was played at women's colleges in New York and New England as early as the mid-nineteenth century; teams were formed at Vassar College, Smith College, Wellesley College, and Mount Holyoke College. An African American women's team, the Philadelphia Dolly Vardens, was formed in 1867.
Spurs Sports & Entertainment L.L.C. (SS&E) is an American sports & entertainment organization, based in San Antonio, Texas. The company owns and operates several sporting franchises including the National Basketball Association (NBA) San Antonio Spurs, NBA G League Austin Spurs, and the USL Championship club San Antonio FC. SS&E also operates the Bexar County-owned multi-purpose facility, the AT&T Center.
Kathy Arendsen is an American softball head coach and former professional player. Born and raised in Michigan, Arendsen pitched for the Holland Christian High School, where she won the state championship, before embarking on a successful collegiate and professional career. During her college years, Arendsen pitched for Texas Woman's University and California State University, Chico, where she led both teams to national championships. In recognition of her efforts, she received the 1978 Broderick Award as the nation's outstanding female athlete in softball. She was also selected to pitch for Team USA at the 1979 and 1983 Pan American Games, winning a gold and silver medal respectively.
In 1909, 22-year-old Alice Ramsey made history as the first woman to drive across the United States ...
...A trailblazer of special note is Karyn Marshall, the USA’s first ever Women’s World Champion and the first woman to clean and jerk in excess of 300lbs. ...
| National |
| National Association of |
|By state / territory|
|Major team sports|
|Major individual sports|