Written by Colleen Meosky, Amanda Ojeda, and Henry Su
(Written by Colleen)
On Friday, November 6, East’s Girl Up! hosted its first in a series of panels for this year. This meeting focused on the importance of women in all areas of athletics, the difficulties they face, and how they overcome these obstacles. With panelists Kathy Twist, Maddy Glab, and Nellie Drew-Meosky, East students and faculty were able to learn a great deal about women in the sports world.
Kathy Twist retired from a long, successful career in sports administration and coaching from UB last year. She was senior associate athletic director and a former tennis coach. Ms. Twist shared the story of how she was first introduced to her love of sports when she was just a big sister fulfilling her babysitting duties. She’d play around with her younger brothers to keep them occupied and discovered how much she enjoyed it. However, it was deemed inappropriate for girls to be athletic when she was growing up. One day, she threw a baseball over the roof and her grandfather remarked it was a shame she wasn’t a boy. Ms. Twist explained how this comment provoked her to become an avid athlete.
A strong will and unbreakable spirit shaped her into one of Buffalo’s premier tennis players while society still ignored the calls for equal opportunity for all athletes. Ms. Twist was far from done in the world of sports. She decided to use the qualities men would regard as inferior to become an encouraging coach. Ms. Twist learned about her players as people and used methods that included a lot of listening.
Ms. Twist also pursued a career in sports administration. She loved to interact with her coworkers outside of the conference rooms to get to know them as people. This strengthened the cooperation and teamwork needed with whomever she worked with.
Maddy Glab, the Buffalo Bills and Sabres’ multimedia sports journalist, also kindly joined our panel. She addressed the sexism within her field, the downsides in living in a world with social media, and the Bills’ success this season.
Growing up with Title IX, Ms. Glab fortunately had more support in entering athletics as a young girl than the other panelists. That being said, there are still many harsh stigmas and attitudes surrounding her work as a sports journalist. There are some people who refuse to focus on her predictions of an offensive line over how her hair looks in her pre-game coverage. Ms. Glab explained she was able to find confidence in her voice through her hard work in college and her later internships and jobs. Scrolling through nasty comments on social media is not beneficial.
Unfortunately, there is a definite stigma that women don’t understand football because they don’t play it. Ms. Glab, however, knows women can and do play football. Yes, female football players exist, and many of them play tackle. While she is not one of them, she pointed out that there are plenty of other male sideline reporters who also haven’t played, yet people usually decide to ignore this fact. Worry not, Ms. Glab has had prestigious football education.
Professor Nellie Drew-Meosky
Professor Drew-Meosky teaches sports law and is Director of the Center for the Advancement of Sport at University at Buffalo School of Law. She mainly played hockey and tennis growing up pre-Title IX in Batavia. She was never allowed to play on her high school hockey team.
In the 2000s, things came full circle when Professor Drew was one of the main advocates for the establishment of the girls’ school hockey league in Western New York, so her five daughters would have the opportunity she was denied. Finally, the league was established but not before the oldest daughter missed out because people were still trying to stop it. She says she relies on the prospect of her daughters’ futures to combat the discrimination she’s experienced.
In her law career, Professor Drew worked at the law firm Cohen Swados and was consul to the Buffalo Sabres. She was the first pregnant woman to ever attend an NHL Board of Governors meeting. Eventually, Professor Drew accepted the position of the team’s in-house lawyer and now tells thrilling stories of defecting player Alexander Mogilny out of the hands of communist Russia in the late 1980s. She later turned to teaching at the UB law school and loves sharing her passion for sports with her students.
Learning about Gender Discrimination from a Male Perspective
Women have definitely made impressive breakthroughs in athletics. However, many changes in society’s misogynistic culture can only be accomplished if the other half of the population respects female athletes and women in the sports industry. It is crucial for young men to be aware of the injustices that occur in our systems and stand up against them. Everyone needs to be educated on gender discrimination, and Henry Su recognized this and decided to attend the panel. Here is what he learned:
(Written by Henry)
As a young man, I have seen firsthand toxic masculinity taught from a young age. Immersed fully in the culture of “locker room talk” and sports as a man’s pursuit, it was admittedly somewhat surprising to hear directly from the women responsible for the growth of women’s roles in sports. It is a field we are removed from — many men tend to see women’s sports as a side engagement, decidedly less glamorous than the male sports leagues dominating primetime television. This is something that Glab, Drew-Meosky, and Twist were all unashamed to admit: there exists an unmistakable divide between the worlds of men’s and women’s sports that has only begun to erode in recent memory.
Their experiences with sexism in sports were extremely uncomfortable to listen to. As a man, there is a sense of shame behind the acknowledgement of the sexism ingrained in our society. Listening to Ms. Glab describe her experiences with the expectations of men in her industry — as a sports reporter — is at once shocking and unsurprising. However, as a man, I also am responsible for bearing witness to the attitudes men assume that afflict women with disadvantageous opportunities in sports.
It is the responsibility of young men like me to continue the task of dismantling the system designed to serve only the men it has advantaged for decades. When I asked the panel how male youth should confront these problems in adult life and professional settings, I was told we should first be accepting. Much like the conversations surrounding the awakening of a Black consciousness in our time, they told me the importance of normalization. Allow women to assume positions of leadership. Let go of the instinct to guard, to deflect any attempt to change the status quo benefitting the male. Now is the time to celebrate women leading the way in fields where too long, men have been the sole guides. Women possess skills men often lack, that they are empowered to use to enable positive change. The Women in Sports Panel featured three women who lead in the world of sports, and who have used their skills to empower young female athletes and begin to cure the toxic masculinity harming the sporting world.
How Sports Demonstrate Women’s Strength
(Written by Amanda)
Coming from someone whose athletic background is not expansive by any means, this panel was a truly valuable experience. It broadened my knowledge and helped me realize the strides that the feminist movement has made in male dominated fields such as sports, and the struggles that women in sports face in the modern-day world. When Colleen and I were preparing for hosting this panel, we held a quick meeting with Mrs. Fey-Daly, our role model and advisor, who told us that “Women’s sports are always an afterthought.” Continuing by saying, most people when thinking of the feminist movement centralize it on the political and economic benefits, while the social aspects are kept on the sidelines.
Both economic and political facets are critical matters for discussion and progress. However, shedding light on the often-shrouded social aspects of the feminist movement, such as sports, can branch out to a myriad of young people eager for a shift away from misogynistic views. All throughout time, the public and the media have made this portrayal of what a woman should be or act like. Stemming from that are unconscious biases about gender roles, women’s appearance, and their behavior. The three panelists brought to light that society is fixated on restricting women, and how that forced them to handle adversities a man would never dream of undergoing. Being a part of sports, generally considered a masculine industry, was quite literally built for men and also came with an entire set of challenges. Nevertheless, sports allowed them a platform to express themselves, and encourage others to put a halt on sexist views. Amid the conversation, it became quite clear to the audience that society is built to minimize a woman’s voice, but sports can be a powerful asset for women to strengthen theirs.
Our three guest speakers Kathy Twist, Helen Drew-Meosky, and Maddy Glab shared their experiences and by doing so, touched on subjects such as the portrayal of women in the media, stereotypical femininity, sports being considered “A Man’s World”, and how our generation can continue the movement. The panel helped many others, including myself, become more well versed in understanding the trials and triumphs they have experienced in the sports industry. It is remarkable women like them who helped pave the way for women in sports today. It is now up to us to strengthen and promote the movement and work towards gender equity for the next generation. As they say in the sports world, the ball is in our court.