SHS female athletes break barriers while competing in male-dominated sports

Kormuth has been playing golf since the age of nine. She will attend Cleveland State University as a golf commit. Courtesy of Doug Wolfe

Doug Wolfe

Kormuth has been playing golf since the age of nine. She will attend Cleveland State University as a golf commit. Courtesy of Doug Wolfe

Avantika Pai, Staff Writer

In January 2023, Kaitlin Kormuth, an SHS senior, was awarded the Gold Pen from the Write Cause essay contest for her essay on gender inequality in golf. While describing her years-long experience as a golfer, Kormuth highlighted certain misogynistic phrases she has heard while competing and the discrepancies between male and female courses contributing to the sport’s inequality.

In general, golf tends to have a male-dominated presence. While Kormuth hasn’t necessarily experienced inequality during the school season as she competes with the girls’ team and against other girls’ teams, she has faced it while practicing alone on courses.

“When I practice or when I play in a tournament, I’ve sometimes heard people say, ‘You hit that shot pretty far, for a girl,’ instead of simply saying ‘that was a great shot,’” Kormuth said.

Richmond has been competing on the school ice hockey team since her sophomore year of high school. Courtesy of Jayne Klein (Jayne Klein)

There are several sports at SHS that are open to both female and male athletes in which there are a disproportionate amount of male competitors to female competitors. One of these sports is ice hockey. Sophia Richmond has been a member of the ice hockey team since her sophomore year and she has often been one of the very few female athletes on the team, if not the only one. Richmond described how she joined the school team because she was looking for a sport to compete in during the pandemic.

“I never felt necessarily judged [when I joined the school team] because there are quite a few girls throughout the sport itself, and there are usually girls’ hockey teams,” Richmond said.

Richmond has expressed that for the most part, she feels supported as one of the only girls on the team.

“There are definitely people that I really value as players, as friends and as teammates,” Richmond said. “They’ve made me feel safe and supported, especially the other girl [who’s currently] on the team.”

Despite being a part of a male-dominated team, Richmond has explained that she has never allowed it to influence her performance in any way.

“I don’t think others have affected the way I play,” Richmond said. “I just try to focus on having fun and learning.”

Olszewski has been throwing since seventh grade and has been on the high school team all four years. She was the runner-up in her event at the 2023 indoor track state competition. Courtesy of Markell Green (Markell Green)

At SHS, the indoor track team’s throwing events have also had a significantly higher proportion of male-to-female athletes. SHS senior Hannah Olszewski, who has been throwing shot put and discus since seventh grade, has consistently been one of the few girls on the coed team. Olszewski has explained that she didn’t immediately feel supported when she first joined the high school team.

“I showed up the first day and there had been a [stereotype] of girls showing up and being on their phones or not working as hard,” Olszewski said. “Once I showed them that I was there to do my best, and I was putting in the time and the effort like anybody else, they saw I meant business and were more inclined to support me.”

At the 2023 state competition, Olszewski competed in shot put and placed second with a personal record by three feet. She has described that it wasn’t until she proved she was motivated and dedicated throughout the years that she began to see more support.

“I definitely had to work harder to be taken seriously in my sport,” Olszewski said. “Now I’m a captain of the team and was one of the only people to make the podium at indoor states. I think now, I’m a lot more respected because I’ve been successful.”

Olszewski has also explained that as a female athlete in a male-dominated sport, she receives different treatment from people outside of the sport.

“People are less inclined to know how well you do,” Olszewski said. “I don’t get questions regarding my performance. Now I do since I’m a veteran.”

Thomas (left) has been competing since her freshman year of high school. Courtesy of Ronni Valentino (Ronnie Valentino)

McKenzie Thomas has also described how she’s had to prove herself as the only girl on the SHS wrestling team. Thomas, who has been competing on the team since her freshman year, has explained how she feels the pressure of being the only girl.

“I feel like I have to set an example and my mind tells me I have to be equal to [the boys],” Thomas said.

Thomas has also said that she wishes more girls joined the team but understands that they might not want to deal with being on an all-boys team.

“All I can say is just go for it,” Thomas said as advice to potential female athletes who may want to join the wrestling team. “If you have a thought, just go for it.”

Overall, Kormuth has explained that she hopes younger female athletes stay dedicated to their sports, regardless of a significant male presence.

“I hope younger girls [stay] motivated and uplifted, feeling like they can play in the same ways boys do,” Kormuth said. “I hope they feel like they can hit the ball just as far, score just as well, and compete at high-level tournaments.”