I held up a newly inflated beach ball with pride as my husband walked into the room. Pointing to it, I said: "Pure manpower!" He replied in feigned shock, "I thought you were a woman!" After an obligatory eye roll, I thought, "Heck yeah, I am!" It's been a very impressive week for powerful women in the United States.
Things kicked off when the No. 2 ranked women's U.S. soccer team beat No. 1 ranked Germany in a 2-0 semifinal match Tuesday. The U.S. team has been a force to be reckoned with for more than a couple of decades.
A top power player is Abby Wambach, the highest all-time goal scorer on the U.S. women's team. (In fact, she holds the international world record for goals scored, male or female, at 184 goals.) Abby has won just about every soccer award there is to be won -- except the World Cup. This is her last go-round after three previous World Cup tournaments. Expect her to give it everything she's got tonight at 7, when the U.S. team plays Japan for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015.
Misty Copeland made history last week in a different category of athletics. She is now the first black woman to be promoted to the rank of principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. In 75 years, ABT has never placed an African-American dancer in such a level of prominence. But Copeland has been a shooting star from a young age, defying many odds and challenging dated image standards in the ballet world.
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She was the youngest daughter of a struggling single mother and didn't begin taking dance class until she was 13 years old. She started her ballet training at the local Boys & Girls Club, studying under a teacher named Cindy Bradley. Copeland was quickly excelling and began attending more and more frequent classes. Bradley could tell in a matter of weeks that she had a star on her hands and invested a great deal of effort in developing Copeland's technique.
When Copeland's family had to move far across town into a more affordable apartment, Copeland would spend the week with Bradley so she could continue to attend dance classes after school without burdening her mother with obligations to commute. She thrived and excelled with such speed that when her mother asked her tow live at home again, Copeland attempted to file for emancipation from her mother. She was that desperate to continue her regular dance training and career trajectory. She was only 15. While the emancipation didn't go through because Copeland was too young, her mother felt she had no choice but to step out of her daughter's way.
In the years that followed, Copeland was invited to join the studio company at the American Ballet Theater and moved to New York at 18 to pursue her professional dance career. The rest is, obviously, history.
To the powerful ladies reading this, keep pushing and breaking through barriers. You're in very good company.
-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at email@example.com.