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Timeline: A Brief History of Women's Team Sports in America

True-Hearted Vixens introduces us to some exceptional women breaking barriers in the world of sports. However, the opportunities offered to these women are the result of the hard work of generations of pioneering women in the United States. Check out the timeline below for a brief history of women's team sports in America.


1866   The all-female Vassar College fields two student baseball teams.
1875   The first professional baseball match between all-female teams is held between the Blondes and the Brunettes in Springfield, IL.
1890   Bloomer Girls, hundreds of teams consisting primarily of women, begin to get paid as they travel the country playing baseball against men's teams.
1892   Gymnastics instructor Senda Berenson Abbott adapts James Naismith's basketball rules for women and introduces the game to her students at Smith College.
1896   The first women's intercollegiate basketball championship is held between Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.
1926   The Amateur Athletic Union sponsors the first-ever national women's basketball championship.
1934   After playing for more than 40 years, the last of the Bloomer Girls teams disbands.
1936   The All American Red Heads Team, a barnstorming troupe similar to the Bloomer Girls, is formed. It is generally regarded as the first women's professional basketball team.
1943   To fill the void left by many major league players enlisting for war, the All-American Girls Softball League is formed under Chicago White Sox owner Philip Wrigley. The League gradually transforms into the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
1954   The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League plays its last season.
1972   President Richard Nixon signs Title IX of the Educational Amendment of 1972.
1974   The Women's Sports Foundation is created by Billie Jean King. It is "a charitable educational organization dedicated to increasing the participation of girls and women in sports and fitness and creating an educated public that supports gender equity in sport." The first women's professional football league (WPFL) kicks off its inaugural season with seven teams.
1977   The first varsity women's soccer program begins at Brown University.
1988   American Women's Baseball Association (AWBA) forms a four team league in Chicago.
1991   FIFA stages the first women's World Cup in China. The U.S. team wins the Championship and triggers a national fervor for the game.
1996   National Women's Baseball Association is formed to serve as an umbrella organization for various professional teams across the country.
1996   Women's soccer makes its Olympics debut in Atlanta, enticing many of the top international stars to stay in the game instead of opting for retirements. The U.S. team wins the gold medal.
1996   The NBA Board of Governors approves the concept of a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) to begin play in June 1997.
1997   The inaugural Women's National Basketball Association season begins on June 21.
2000   The National Women's Football League (NWFL) is formed

Major U.S. media companies and individual investors join forces with the nation's leading female soccer stars to form the women's United Soccer Association (WUSA).

First Women's Football Super Bowl is played in Pasadena Stadium in Texas.


Associated Press article. Today more than 110,000 women participate in college sports and the number of female athletes in high school has increased from about 300,000 to 2.13 million. Many prominent female athletes have also credited this amendment with opening the door of opportunity in sports for them.

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