PSU Athletics Director Valerie Cleary on the power of women in sports

1988 Vikings volleyball national championship team
BY VALERIE CLEARY
Director of Athletics

It’s been a few days since the Super Bowl. Typically, on this hallowed day, two teams of men battle it out on the football field, while millions gather to cheer on their favorite team and cast their votes for the best commercial. This year felt a little different. There was a subtle, yet powerful message being sent to millions of women and girls.

  • Katie Sowers, with the San Francisco 49er’s, made history as the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl.
  • Numerous commercials prominently included women and advocated for inclusion.
  • The half-time show headlined two powerful Latina performers — Jennifer Lopez and Shakira — and numerous young girls.
Then-freshman Desirae Hansen celebrates after her shot with 20 seconds left gave the Viks the Big Sky title win in 2019.

The message was clear: Women and girls are important contributors to our world — including sports.

This week marks the 34th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, a week in which we celebrate and inspire “girls and women to play and be active, to realize their full power.” In my role as the Director of Athletics at Portland State University, I have the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact sport has on women. I see the leadership, communication and teamwork skills our student-athletes develop through their sport, I see the impact that strong female mentors have on our young men and women, and I see the future in the eyes of young girls who come to cheer our teams on each week.

The power of sport is undeniable. The impacts of participation will last a lifetime. I encourage you to advocate and support the girls and women in your life in all they do — it might just change the world.

GO VIKS!

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