Women’s Bar Association honors trailblazers in sports for Women’s History Month
Brooklyn Judge Claudia Daniels-Depeyster is one of honorees
As part of a celebration of Women’s History Month, the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association hosted an event on March 20 at the Brooklyn Bar Association to highlight some local trailblazers in sports.
“There is something special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world,” said Justice Sylvia Ash, co-chair of the event. “It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, determination and fearlessness. Although these women have excelled in different sports, the one trend that unites them together is that they dared to dream.”
The panel included Kym Hampton, a former WNBA basketball player; Heather Hardy, championship boxer and kickboxer; Hon. Claudia Daniels-Depeyster, a golfer for the Black Jewel Ladies Golf Association; and Nzingha Prescod, a U.S. women’s foil fencer in the 2018 Olympics.
Each athlete was asked to speak about how they rose to the top of their respective fields in sports, including some of the challenges that they faced which are unique to women in sports. Afterward, the Women’s Bar presented them with awards of appreciation.
The discussions often highlighted the inequality women experience in sports, particularly the large pay gap.
BWBA President Carrie Anne Cavallo said that Heather Hardy’s journey was especially inspiring since she was often told that she could not make it as a boxer because only the men are paid. It wasn’t until 2012 that women boxers were even included in the Olympics.
“Heather’s story was particularly compelling about all the ups and downs that she has gone through in her life,” Cavallo said.
“The same fight that [Hardy] fought, she got paid $7,000 and her male counterpart got $150,000, Cavallo said. “In 2019 [this] is obscene. She fought the same amount of rounds. She did exactly the same fight. The only difference is that in one fight there is a man and in another there is a woman. It’s appalling, honestly.”
Despite the enormous pay gap, Hardy wears her achievements with pride. She sat in front of the audience with a belt that she had won in a world championship. Hardy explained that she proudly shows off the belt to show how far she has come since the beginning of her career.
“I was delivering books, I was working on the Bowery, I was doing online marketing, I was a secretary, I was teaching exercise classes in basements in my neighborhood,” Hardy said as she ran through the list of jobs she had while she went through a divorce and had to provide for her kids without the help of child support.
Hampton suggested that change needs to start with women supporting other women in sports by buying tickets to their games watching them on television. With more viewership and more tickets sold, female athletes will be able to get more sponsorships and will be able to sustain themselves through sports alone.
Prescod, a 26-year-old Olympian, explained that she has to work at the accounting firm of Ernst and Young to sustain herself in addition to being a professional athlete. Hardy says that she sometimes has to work the day of a match in order to get by on her bills.
“The question is, how do we fix it?” Cavallo asked. “That’s something we need to take care of. I think this event is one step towards that. We figure out how all these women, who have worked so hard, don’t have to work two or three jobs so that they can do something that they are so passionate about.”
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