As have most events this year, the Black Women in Sport Foundation held its annual honors award event virtually. Hosted by Dr. Nikki Franke, head women’s fencing coach at Temple University and co-founder of BWSF, the awards recognized exceptional individuals who help further the organization’s mission to increase the involvement of Black women and girls in all aspects of sport.
The honorees were Lucille Hester, Legacy Award; Charisse Lillie, Trailblazer for Diversity Award; Deborah White, Spotlight Award; Joan Lothery, George Family Spirit of Community Award; and Linda Greene, Game Changer in Leadership Award. They each spoke about their commitment to community. Many have been involved with BWSF since its inception in 1992.
“Deborah White wants to show that everyone can contribute and make a difference,” said Dr. Germaine Edwards, program and communications manager, BWSF. “Every effort we make together can, in fact, impact the next generation and generations to come.
“We try to make sure young people today know the history of Black women in sport—the accomplishment as well as the advocacy and being in many cases the first,” she added.
The theme for the 2020 honors was Past, Present & Future. President and co-founder of BWSF, Tina Sloan Green, who blazed trails as the first Black woman on the U.S. national field hockey team and as the head women’s lacrosse coach at Temple University, said she is glad to have recognized people whom she has seen have an impact over the course of several decades.
“Had I not gone to Girls’ High [Philadelphia High School for Girls], I would not have been exposed to tennis, lacrosse or field hockey,” said Sloan Green, now 76. “If kids are given equitable opportunities, especially in public schools, they see possibilities.”
When she coached at Temple, Sloan Green’s children were able to hang around the university and see the opportunities that sports brought. Her daughter, Traci Green, is the Sheila Kelly Palandjian head coach for Harvard University’s women’s tennis, having taken over the program July 1, 2007.
“[The honorees] are not out there in the front, but they’re a powerful influence for sport,” said Sloan Green. “It is pleasing for me to thank them and have the world know what they’ve done.”
The BWSF honors award event was held in collaboration with the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University. Sloan Green will soon be contributing her archival materials to the Blockson Collection.
“There’s a story behind everything,” said Sloan Green. “Blockson was very supportive of the stuff [BWSF] was doing when we first started. It seems like the natural place to put our collection.”