Blythe Hastings ’23
Every year, the Women’s Sports Foundation recognizes an athlete who has displayed exceptional performance over a 12-month period. An award was not granted in 2020. Awards are based on public votes, which make up 50%, and Awards Committee votes, which make up the other 50%. The two athletes with the highest combined votes will be honored by the Women’s Sports Foundation. In this year, Allyson Felix and Jordan Larson received the highest votes. They were recognized at the Annual Salute to Women in Sports event on Wednesday, October 13.
Olympic track star Allyson Felix, recipient of the 2021 Individual Sportswoman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation now joins the ranks of past Black women honorees, including Serena Williams (2015), Simone Biles (2014), and Gabby Douglas (2012). The 35-year-old mom has been making strides this year, dominating the headlines on and off the court. This summer, Felix broke records in the summer Tokyo Olympics. She brough home a bronze medal in the 400-meter race and became the most decorated track and field Olympian in history. Felix also helped the U.S. women’s 4×400-meter relay team capture the gold medal. After her breathtaking performance, Felix now holds 11 Olympic medals. Felix has stood out this year as a support system and role model for mom-athletes. She’s spoken out to invoke support for moms who continue to pursue their athletic career after giving birth. Her work has inspired the Power of She: Child Care Grant. This initiative was developed in partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation and Athleta. Felix has also made leaps in her entrepreneurial endeavors. This year, she launched Saysh, a footwear brand designed for women. When she spoke out against Nike for cutting her pay due to pregnancy, she created her own footwear brand and inspired the company to change its maternity policy.
Former Husker All-American and three-time Olympic medalist Jordan Larson was also recognized as the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year for Team Sport at the organization’s Annual Salute event. Larson has won Olympic bronze, gold, and gold medals as a professional volleyball player over the last ten years. Most recently, she helped the U.S. women’s volleyball team claim its’ first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo. The WSF accolade is the most recent in a remarkable year for Larson, who was honored after captaining Team USA to its first Olympic gold medal in indoor volleyball at the 2020 Tokyo Games. She was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Best Outside Hitter and earned a spot on the Tokyo 2020 Dream Team. Earlier in this year, Larson also led the U.S. women’s team to its third straight FIVB Volleyball Nations League title. In April, she was the champion of the inaugural season of the Athletes Unlimited professional volleyball league. Larson was officially inducted into the Nebraska Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020 this fall. Larsen was a former four-year starter from 2005-08 and led the Huskers to the 2006 NCAA championship and four straight Big 12 titles. She was a three-time All-American before beginning her outstanding international career. These women have pioneered the way for women athletes, not only in the Olympics with the United States and at home with their professional teams, but internationally.