“We had a chance to see each other after a long drought,” said Dr. Alpha Alexander, co-founder of the Black Women in Sport Foundation (BWSF). The hashtag was #BWSF30&COUNTING as the foundation celebrated 30 years with a sneaker ball. Everyone was happy to dress up and grateful not to wear high heels. The Temple University Aramark STAR Complex was transformed into a ballroom and the evening concluded with dancing.
BWSF was founded by Alexander, Dr. Nikki Franke, Tina Sloan Green and Linda Greene. Franke and Green were coaches and professors at Temple University, where Franke is still teaching and coaching fencing. The event commemorated BWSF’s commitment to increase the involvement of Black girls and women in all aspects of sport.
“I think the foundation is needed even more today,” said Alexander, who in 1978 wrote her master’s thesis on the status of women of color in AIAW (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, at that time the national governing body for women’s college sports). “Today, I think it really points out that we need a seat at the table where major decisions are made and also in terms of where the finances are allocated.”
The evening’s honorees were legendary basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer (Living Legend Award), journalist Jemele Hill (Trailblazer Award), executive Michael Horsey, Temple University head women’s lacrosse coach Bonnie Rosen, and Temple associate head women’s lacrosse coach Jennifer Wong (Community Builder Award).
Some years ago, BWSF created a program for the NCAA called the Next Step targeted toward athletic administrators at HBCU institutions. Today, the conference commissioners of three of the five HBCU athletic conferences are women.
Torrie Browning, a tennis coach, joined the BWSF board last year. “It’s great to have this organization as a support group, with Black women who have been doing this longer than I have,” said Browning.
“It’s been really great to hear their stories and to get mentorship from them. … I want to help anyway that I can in growing this organization and keep it moving ahead for future generations.”
Being at her first gala was exciting for Browning. “Having those in-person interactions was the highlight for me,” she said. “Paying tribute to the founders and people in the Philadelphia community…who’ve done things for Black girls in sport was a great evening.”