Midland University Proud to Celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day
February 2nd marks the 36th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Since its inception in 1987, NGWSD is a day to recognize women’s contributions to sports and society. It also serves to acknowledge the influence of female athletes at all levels and honor the progress and continuing struggle for equality in women’s sports.
Midland University is proud to celebrate the role its more than 400 female student-athletes play on campus. Boasting the largest athletic department in the state, Midland offers 15 women’s sports, as well as four co-ed sports. Women’s Flag Football was the most recent addition in 2020, making Midland one of only 15 institutions in the nation to offer flag football.
“We have women’s sports that many other institutions across the country offer, but we also give them that variety through flag football, hockey, Esports, and wrestling,” Courtney Thomsen, Midland University Athletic Director, said. “That variety is what makes Midland such a wonderful place for all athletes. We have so many opportunities for female athletes to get involved.”
Thomsen was a Division I soccer player at the University of Arizona. After her playing career was finished, she found herself climbing the athletic ranks from coach, to administrator, and finally an AD at Marymount California University. She arrived at Midland in July of 2021, becoming the first female AD in its history.
“I didn’t aspire to have a career in athletics, even though I had a passion for it,” Thomsen said. “But if it weren’t for the opportunities presented to me by female coaches and administrators who came before me, I could never have even dreamed of this being a possibility. My hope is that I can be an inspiration for women who want to advance through the athletic ranks.”
This year’s NGWSD celebration is also significant in that it was 50 years ago that Title IX was put into effect. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
“Title IX played a huge role in me being able to compete in college athletics,” Thomsen said. “As a result, we are seeing women have more opportunities to compete. The more women we have involved in sports, the more it will inspire our youth to continue to compete. It aligns with our vision of being relentlessly relevant at Midland. Not only are we providing opportunities for women in sports that other places might not, but we’re attaching scholarships to it. It’s allowed us to reach out to a lot more young women than we ever have before.”
Those opportunities have also provided more recognition for female athletes, including Midland’s own Amy Cawley. A member of the Midland Shotgun Sports team, Cawley’s “Her Shooting Journey” Instagram page has more than 4,200 followers and has allowed her to receive NIL (Name Image Likeness) opportunities. “Not only can she compete at a sport she’s good at and loves, but it’s also helped her earn some money through these deals,” Thomsen said.
While the number of female athletes at the college level is near 50 percent, the number of female administrators continues to fall short. As of 2019, about 24 percent of athletic director positions at the NCAA level were filled by females. “More times than not, I’m the only female, or one of very few, in the room at AD meetings,” Thomsen said. “We’re not seeing as many women in these administrative roles, so it shows we have work to do. I’m so grateful to be on a campus where I’m not only encouraged to lead athletics but have a voice at the table to help athletics continue to grow for all genders.”