The 14 Wonder Women Athletes Of 2014

The stunts and skills professional athletes perform are superhuman compared to those we, the couch-sitting observers, have ever attempted to take out. I mean carry out. Takeout is the food we order while comfortably making a small dent in the cushion beneath our bottoms. Regardless, these extraordinary individuals use all the strength in their bodies to fight the forces of opposing teams and personal rivalries. They remind us viewers that to play sports professionally as a career, you have to be in damn good shape, have damn good prowess and live with a damn good amount of tenacity in order to succeed at that level.

In 2014, we saw numerous athletes rise to the top as they battled it out on the playing field, court, rink, what have you. What was truly incredible to see were the female athletes who embodied the spirit of Wonder Woman (yes, the DC comic book character). They blew us away not only with the accomplishments they achieved within their sports, but also the incredible hurdles it took to reach that point.

Let me clarify what it means to be a Wonder Woman athlete before you read the list below. Wonder Woman is a super-heroine completely different from the rest. She emerged as a character all her own, her powers are a gift from the gods, and she stands for truth and honor with everything that she does. She works by using reason and kindness to overcome evils but also knows how to pack a strong punch when necessary. She's a woman who stands out from the rest in the way that she works and approaches each situation. Oh, and of course I can't forget that she looks damn good in her uniform; you not only see her strength emerging from the red, white and blue, but her fury and passion too. Each of the Wonder Women who made it on this list manifests these traits and has emerged in her sport at the top.

So without further ado and before the year is over, I introduce to you the Wonder Women athletes of 2014.


14. Kate Fagan


Although she is no longer playing basketball for the University of Colorado and is currently putting her time into writing for ESPN, Kate Fagan overcame a major milestone for female athletes by publishing the book "The Reappearing Act: Coming Out on a College Basketball Team Led by Born-Again Christians" in 2014. In the book, she discusses her constant struggle against the norm of the team and her actual feelings as a lesbian. Writing this book not only pushes the boundaries for gay women in sports, but for all who are working for the gay rights movement in athletics. She honestly takes a stand for who she is, what she believes in and for others who may feel the struggle she understands.


13. Lexi Thompson


This woman is now 19 years old but qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at the age of 12. From the get-go, she has continuously improved and placed high in numerous prestigious golf events, like the LPGA Tournament and Ladies European Tour. This year, she won her first major championship at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, making her the second youngest major champion in women's golf. She's only been legal for a little over a year now, and yet she's been competing at the highest levels of golf and changing the competition. From the looks of it, 2015 is about to be an incredible year for Miss Thompson, a young female working hard and achieving greatness while still unable to legally drink a glass of wine.


12. Lydia Ko


The real game changer in golf is this chica right here. When she announced she was going pro in October 2013, she could already claim to be the youngest to win an LPGA tour when she was 15. This past year, at 17 years old, she became the youngest to win the LPGA Rookie of the Year honors and to accumulate $2 million in the sport. Lydia Ko currently sits at the number two slot on the Rolex Rankings with a phenomenal 2015 around the corner. The skill, drive and focus she has for golf at such a young age are not only grabbing the attention of those who follow the sport, but shocking the entire world as well. Lydia is truly a unique golfer, and she's got fire in her eyes for the top, with the goal of reaching number one in the coming year.


11. Becky Hammon


Making big moves on the sidelines is Becky Hammon, who became an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs on August 5, 2014. Before her NBA coaching career, she played for the San Antonio Stars, New York Liberty, and even became a Russian citizen in 2008 to play on the Russian Olympic team in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She unfortunately tore her left anterior cruciate ligament in July 2013 while playing and decided during her yearlong recovery that it was time to follow her aspirations and coach. Seeing as she had a ridiculous amount of experience as a player with high recognition and made an impact on the San Antonio Spurs practices, coach's meetings and games, she was the perfect fit for the team. Moving from player to coach, Becky became the second female assistant coach in the NBA and the first to have a full-time position. Looking at the bigger picture, this makes her the first female full-time assistant coach in any of the four major professional sports in North America. Becky's confidence in herself, her knowledge in the sport and her skills as a leader make her a wonder woman who is changing the idea of what it takes to coach in professional sports.


10. Hayley Wickenheiser

Hayley Wickenheiser

Not many female athletes can say that they've played in a men's league, and even fewer can add that they've scored against a male opponent. Being one of the world's toughest athletes, scoring a point against against the guys is only one of the amazing feats Hayley Wickenheiser has overcome. At 15, she became a part of Canada's National Women's Hockey team and has obtained five Olympic medals since then. In the 2014 Olympics, she was not only the flag bearer for Canada, but also elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission. Hayley is such a huge pioneer for women in hockey and is determined and dedicated to continuously succeeding in her own career and promoting women's hockey around the world.


9. Brittney Griner


It's not easy to miss Brittney Griner, the 6'8" center for the Phoenix Mercury. But when you see this woman play, all of your attention goes to her and her beast mode unmatchable by any other in the league. In her collegiate career before her WNBA debut in 2013, she received All-American honors three times, won numerous other awards, and became the first NCAA female basketball player to score 2,000 points and block 500 in a collegiate career. She entered the WNBA as the number one draft pick and came out with a bang when she dunked the ball twice in her debut game, a first for anyone in the female history of the sport. This year, she didn't stop and grabbed the title of the Defensive Player of the Year and Outsports Female Athlete of the Year. During the FIBA games, she helped lead the women's basketball team to victory and was one of the All-Star Five. Brit has not stopped succeeding since she started and will continue to blast through the competition in the coming year with the same fire in her eyes.


8. Li Na


In February 2014, Li Na ranked number two on the WTA Tour, a career best for the pro female tennis star. Unfortunately, with worsening knee injuries and the inability to compete at a healthy level, she retired in September. That does not diminish the impact she's made in tennis and for her country. Over her career, she won nine Women's Tennis Association singles titles and was the rising star emerging from China. To this day, her presence as a Chinese tennis player has impacted tennis significantly. Her most notable achievement was breaking through the world's top 10 for female tennis players. At the end of her career, she ranked sixth worldwide and became a breakthrough advocate athlete for tennis in China. Although her time playing professionally on the tennis court has come to an end, Li Na deserves a round of applause for her enthusiasm and development within the sport.


7. Stephanie Gilmore


Surfing in at number seven is Stephanie Gilmore, the 26-year-old Australian native who continues to lead in the world of women's professional surfing. Since she began entering professional surf competitions at the age of 17, Stephanie has never stopped improving or winning titles. In 2007, her rookie year, she claimed her first ASP World Championship title at the Billabong Pro Maui, scoring the most at the final event of the season. From that year on, she continued to win six more ASP World Championship titles, her last being in 2014. Women's surfing has not been the same since Stephanie entered the water, and claiming the championship title has been a difficult task to anyone in competition with her. With her ambition in events, love for the water and drive to remain on top, 2015 could be lucky number seven for Miss Gilmore.


6. Serena Williams


What list would be complete without Serena Williams? For years, her name has echoed from courts to televisions to advertisements as Serena has climbed the ladder in women's professional tennis and remained defending at the top. At the end of 2014, she ranked number one in women's singles tennis, making her the oldest world number one player in Women's Tennis Association History. To this date, she possesses the most combined titles all time, six of them being world title honors. Starting at the top is the best place to be, and 2014 was just a preview of what's yet to come. Serena's level of competition is so intense, it's almost impossible to think of her not in her tennis outfit, swinging the racket and sending the ball over 100 mph across the court. And if that's not enough to prove she's a super-human, I don't know what is.


5. Penn State Volleyball Team


Creating and keeping a dynasty can be a challenge, but not for the Pennsylvania State Women's Volleyball team. Since 2007, this team has won almost every year, winning six of the past eight years and creating a record of seven NCAA championship titles total, including 2014. The Nittany Lions swept BYU in the final match, winning the first three games, and needed no more to deliberate who were the real title-holders. The best part about the match is the winning point, a serve that barely dribbled over the net, but enough to set the opposing team off-balance and watching the ball hit the floor. The Nittany Lion-esses are all wonder women, each doing her part to take the win each year. And although they may be losing a few seniors, the 2015 title and a potential three-peat still looks more attainable than ever.


4. Lindsey Vonn


Healing from a severe injury is painful and exhausting enough. Doing it twice, getting back into Olympic shape and entering competition again seems unimaginable. But Lindsey Vonn has the required amount of determination, tenacity and confidence. At the end of 2013, she re-injured her right knee, straining it and partially tearing hear ACL during a training session and ultimately damaging it on a skiing trip to France. Instead of risking an even worse injury, she chose to take herself out of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and do intense rehab after surgery to prepare for the 2015 World Championships in February. At the end of 2014, she entered herself in a few events, some of which ended better than others. But the fact that she's competing again after two surgeries and preparing for the World Championships shows the true character of this woman; nothing will get in the way of her love for sport in the snow.


3. Ronda Rousey


When looking into the eyes of Ronda Rousey, you better be prepared to step down. This UFC fighter is in peak shape and could knock many out with just one swing. If her physique doesn't impress you when first looking at her, wait two seconds after the bell rings and you'll be on the edge of your seat. Ronda is the first and current UFC Bantamweight champion, going undefeated for 10 fights, and the number seven pound-for-pound fighter. In the MMA world, she sits at the number one spot at the end of 2014. The strength that this woman has is unmatched, and her fervor for the fight is indescribable. Again, look into her eyes and you'll know what I'm talking about. Watch out, 2015. Ronda Rousey is the tempest we've been waiting for.


2. Kayla Montgomery


There are no words to properly introduce Kayla Montgomery. She is an amazing 18-year-old who has not only become an inspirational woman to the running community, but to everyone who has heard her story. A few years ago, she injured herself in a soccer tournament, eventually leading to loss of feeling in her legs and feet. Soon after, the doctor diagnosed her with multiple sclerosis, a disease that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, disrupting the nervous system's connections. Luckily for Kayla, her doctors cleared her to run, and she took to the sport, immediately putting all efforts into being the best she could be. The effect of her running is a loss of feeling in her legs. After a mile, she no longer feels pain in her leg and consequently can't gauge her speed. And as soon as she crosses the finish line, she collapses instantaneously because her legs are so numb that she loses all control. A coach or a teammate must be there waiting to catch her. Earlier this year, Kayla won the North Carolina high school state title, running the 3,200 meters in 10 minutes, 43 seconds. Currently, she is a freshman running on the Lipscomb University team in Nashville, Tennessee, and running faster than ever. Seeing this young woman overcome an incurable disease that affects her physical mobility and pursuing her passion with success truly makes her a wonder woman athlete.


1. Mo'ne Davis


The phrase "throw like a girl" completely changed in 2014 when Mo'ne Davis took the mound in the Little League World Series. At 13 years old, Mo'ne Davis became the first female pitcher to earn a win and pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series. This girl is truly incredible, having the athleticism and raw talent at such a young age to throw a baseball over 70 mph and a curveball that you can't even focus on. Her performance in the 2014 games shocked the world, yet she took the wins so gracefully, but with grit. Yesterday, she became the youngest athlete to ever win the Associated Press 2014 Athlete of the Year, beating out the great tennis player Serena Williams. Along with the immense honor and extraordinary win, Mo'ne is the first Little League baseball player to appear on Sports Illustrated as a Little League player and has her jersey displayed in baseball's Hall of Fame. She is not only a wonder woman because of her astounding accomplishments in her sport, but also because of the way she handled the attention and competition. Playing with the boys can be much easier than playing with the paparazzi and public. Throughout the Little League World Series and the hurricane of publicity that came afterwards, Mo'ne remained composed, reacted modestly and demonstrated her maturity. What she chooses to pursue in 2015 will be exciting, seeing as she enjoys basketball and soccer as well, but I'm sure she will excel in whatever she focuses on. Nonetheless, the impact she's made in the world of sports is huge, influencing both men and women alike and inspiring young girls to strive for the impossible.

Congratulations, Mo'ne Davis, you are The Sports Fan Journal's #1 Female Athlete of 2014.

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