When Mo’Ne Davis is pitching, being told that you “throw like a girl” is a compliment. At the age of 13, Davis was already pitching 70 MPH fastballs; by 15, she was taking the Little League World Series field by storm. Mo’Ne’s incredible strides as the first African-American girl to play in the Little League World Series have garnered her considerable public attention; Spike Lee directed a documentary on her career trajectory, and Sports Illustrated ran her as a cover story. This made her the first-ever Little League player to make the cover while in Little League. Now at the age of 16, Mo’Ne is active both as a basketball and baseball player, and ultimately aspires to become a WNBA player like her idol, Maya Moore.
Misty Copeland is an internationally-acclaimed ballerina and performer. Currently, she dances as the principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Copeland started her career late, at the age of thirteen, but was quickly recognized as a dance prodigy. By 15, she was fielding professional offers. From there, Copeland’s career took off; after two summer workshops with ABT, she was offered a place as a dancer. By 2007, Copeland had advanced to soloist, and in 2015, she was promoted to her current position as Principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre. This made her the first African-American woman in the role in the company’s 75-year history. Beyond dancing, she has performed on Broadway, appeared on television, and published a few successful memoirs.
Lindsey Vohn is an American World Cup Ski Racer and decorated Olympian. She is one of the six women in the world to have won World Cup titles in all five alpine skiing disciplines: giant slalom, slalom, downhill, super-G, and super combined. Vohn began skiing at the age of 2, and began training in earnest by 10. In the 1990s, her family even moved to Colorado to help facilitate Vohn’s development as an athlete. She debuted on the Olympic stage in 2002, at the age of 17. As of 2016, Vohn had won a full 77 World Cup races.
Katie Ledecky is an American Olympic swimmer and world record-holder for fastest-ever time in women’s 500-, 1000-, and 1650-yard races. Ledecky began swimming at 6 and had landed an Olympic placement by the time she was 15. Over the course of her career, she has smashed thirteen world records and won 24 gold and 2 silver medals.
Simone Biles is only twenty years old – but that hasn’t stopped her from claiming international attention as a gymnast. With a total of 19 World Championship and Olympic medals to call her own, Biles has established herself as the most decorated American gymnast in history. In the 2016 Olympics, Biles even set a new American record for winning the most gold medals (four, in her case) during a single Games.
Needless to say, there are countless female athletes that I couldn’t include on this list that well and truly deserve to be on it. 2017 marked a great year for achievement in women’s sports, and I can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring!