A vote by news directors and US editors at the Associated Press named Mo’ne Davis the 2014 Female Athlete of the Year, making her the youngest person to receive the title. She was also named the 2014 Sports Kid of the Year by Sports Illustrated.
Davis, a pitcher, was the breakout star of the 2014 Little League World Series, where she threw a two-hitter to help Philadelphia beat Nashville 4-0 in the opener and had eight strikeouts without walking a single batter. She’s already playing for her high school’s varsity team – even though she is 13 years old and in eighth grade.
After her performance at the Little League World Series, Davis became a celebrity. She met the Obamas, was in a commercial directed by Spike Lee, and was on the cover of Sports Illustrated Kids. Davis’ message to those who look up to her is: “Always follow your dreams. If there’s something people tell you that you can’t do it, go for it.”
The Little League allowed girls to play for the first time in 1974, after a several year campaign waged by the National Organization for Women. “I can remember it well,” Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation and then President of Pennsylvania NOW told Feminist Newswire. “We picketed the Little League World Series in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania with the slogan ‘Give Girls a Chance.'” Little League was sued by girls in several states with the help of NOW. Finally, in 1974, a New Jersey Court ordered Little League to allow girls to try out. Little League not only integrated its baseball program, but also set up a softball program for girls. On December 26, 1974 President Gerald Ford signed legislation opening Little League to participation by girls by changing its federal charter to include “young people” rather than “boys”.
Davis – an honor student who plays three sports (she plays basketball and soccer, too) – is aiming for the WNBA, but until then says she wants to continue playing three sports in high school. Steve Bandura, who helped coach Davis, said the fame and busy lifestyle doesn’t stop her from being a kid.
Media Resources: Associated Press 12/29/2014; Mic 12/30/2014