Happy Mother’s Day!

Sloane Stephens (Tennis) with mother Sybil Smith (Swimming)
Sloane Stephens (Tennis) with mother Sybil Smith (Swimming)

In honor of mother’s day, we thought we would introduce you to athlete-mothers; those who have daughters who have followed in their footsteps, and those who have not let motherhood keep them from aspiring higher in their sport.

In the Olympic category, Diver Pat McCormick won four gold medals at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics. Her daughter, Kelly McCormick, won a silver medal in the 1984 Games and bronze in 1988.  This is the only mother-daughter combination of Olympic medal winners in history. Speedskater Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr competed in four Winter Olympics from the mid-70’s to the mid-80’s. Her daughter, Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr, whom she coached, competed in 2010 Games in Vancouver.

Sybil Smith was recognized as the finest swimmer in Boston College history, receiving the distinction of being a First Team Division I All-American.  She was the first African American woman in the nation to accomplish that feat, and she remains Boston University’s only All-American in women’s swimming.  Her daughter, Sloane Stephens, is on the path to marking her own place in history.  She has been described as one of the most gifted young tennis players on the tour, and she’s most notably known for her semi-final defeat of Serena Williams at the 2013 Australian Open.

The name Vandeweghe is well-known in the basketball arena (Kiki and Ernie), but did you know that Tauna Vandeweghe is a two-sport Olympian who competed in swimming in 1976 in Montreal and volleyball in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles? Now her daughter, Coco Vandeweghe, is making a name for herself on the tennis court.  She reached a junior ranking of world #15, and won the 2008 US Open Girls’ Singles Championship.  She is currently ranked #36 in the world and shows promise of advancing even higher this season.

Then there are those athletes who not only made the choice to continue to compete after having their children, but went on to win Olympic gold medals, World Championships and other titles with little if any fanfare.  Here are just a few examples: Tennis champ Kim Clijsters was ranked #1 in the world in 2011.  Who could forget the sight of her with her arm around her daughter while hoisting a Grand Slam Championship trophy.  Dara Torres, raised eyebrows and garnered accolades and praise for winning four medals at the Beijing Games after giving birth to her daughter. After Skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace took time off to raise her daughter, she returned to win a silver medal at the Games in Sochi in 2014.

Many other athlete-mothers, like Olympic gold medal ice hockey player Jenny Potter, soccer star and four-time Olympian Christie Rampone, and WNBA basketball standout Candace Parker, all bring their daughters with them when they practice and compete.  And to assist their player moms, the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) is the first professional sports organization to offer a free traveling day-care center.  There are currently 32 moms on the tour who take advantage of this service.

We salute you athlete-mothers, your athlete daughters who have followed you, and your young daughters for whom you are a role model every day.  You have paved, and continue to pave, the way for the future of women in sports!

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