Swimming long distances, running footraces, riding race horses, and driving racecars are all sports that women compete in today, thanks to persistent, talented women who didn’t take “no, girls can’t do that” for an answer.
In the 1920s, women were not expected to be swimmers, but Trudy and her sisters loved dogpaddling in the ocean near their home in New York. When the Women’s Swimming Association began offering classes so that women could be safe in the water, the Ederle girls were the first to sign up, learning the new “American Crawl” stroke. Racing against other women in open water, Trudy was unstoppable, but could she beat the ocean itself?
Louise Stokes and Tidye Pickett just loved to run, and they were so fast! In the 1930s, Louise won the New England amateur track trophy several times, and Tidye was an outstanding young runner in Chicago. Their coaches thought they were good enough to compete in the Olympics, even though many people thought that women couldn’t run long races at all. Louise and Tidye were the first African-American women on the US Olympic Team for the 1932 Games in Los Angeles and the 1936 Games in Germany, where other runners were often given their places for races.
Julie Krone started riding horses at age 2. When she wasn’t riding, she was dreaming about horses, drawing horses, writing stories about horses. Always shorter than her classmates, Julie decided on her dream job in high school when Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, ridden by 18 year-old jockey Steve Cauthen. She had to start by mucking out horse stalls at a racing stable before she could ever ride a race horse. Working her way up from small racetracks to major ones, Julie became a successful jockey, but had trouble with “the classics.” People weren't sure if a woman jockey was strong enough to win a Triple Crown race, but Julie kept working toward her dream.
Danica Patrick grew up in a family that loved racing – cars, snowmobiles, go-karts – if it went fast on land, the Patricks would try it. She started driving karts at age 10, competing against older boys in races, learning racing strategies, and working on her own karts. In early high school, Danica was winning race after race, and sponsors were helping pay for karts and repairs. Her dream was to drive super-fast Indy race cars, so she went to England to learn racing, far from her family and friends. When she returned to the USA, people wondered if she had the grit and skill needed for long, tough races against male drivers who wanted the win.
Readers will feel like they are churning through the strong waves with Ederle, fighting for the chance to run like Stokes and Pickett, galloping down the straightaway with Krone, and speeding through the curves with Patrick at the wheel in this great entry in the “Good Sports” series as they appreciate these women for pursuing their sports dreams. 128 pages Ages 9-13
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA