VA Woman Led The Way - National Girls and Women in Sports Day

in Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Stafford

By Addison Dempsey, Junior Reporter for Macaroni Kid Fredericksburg February 3, 2022

February 2nd was National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This day was created to celebrate the achievements of girls and women in athletics. Today there are many examples of famous female athletes like tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and swimmer Katie Ledecky.

Historically it has not been so easy for women to be involved in sports. Back in the ‘80s, Virginia was thrust into the forefront of the fight for women’s participation in sports. A student named Julie Croteau tried out for her high school’s baseball team. She had been playing since she was 6 years old, and was making her way up to the Babe Ruth League. When she tried out for the JV team, the coach called home to suggest that she try a different sport like softball. She and her parents were appalled and the coach finally allowed her to be on the team. 

Julie rarely got to play, despite being an exceptional player. In her senior year, she wasn’t accepted onto the varsity team, and because of this, her parents ended up suing the team. She, unfortunately, lost the lawsuit and was not allowed to play. As it happened, one of the reporters covering the case also happened to be the manager of the Fredericksburg Giants, a semi-professional team. He invited her to try out and she made the team. She continued playing for many years on the Fredericksburg Giants team. 

She went on to graduate college and now works for Stanford University. She was a baseball stunt double in the movie A League of Their Own, a movie about women in baseball. She has had a successful career and life. 

Julie Croteau did not eliminate all barriers for women to participate in sports however she captured media attention and brought attention to a prominent issue about the equity for women in sports. Her contributions and work towards equality should be celebrated this National Girls and Women in Sports day. 

For a celebration of Women In Sports near you, visit NCWSD.

Source: Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball by: Barbara Gregorich