Women Ball Too.
What started as a campaign to raise awareness for powerful female athletes has now been transformed into a worldwide company and brand. Women Ball Too works to bring females the appreciation they deserve within the world of sports in which inequalities have robbed them of the spotlight.
April 10, 2020
Oregon Women’s Basketball player Sabrina Ionescu is one of the greatest collegiate basketball players to step foot on the court. Her great accomplishments, including holding the record for most points, rebounds, and assists in the NCAA out of all men and women, earned her worldwide recognition and prompted Nike to sell a replica of her jersey. Two hours after the jerseys were available for purchase, they sold out. Ionescu then tweeted, “thank you Nike, what an honor! Hoping this is the start of many more female athletes being represented!”
Throughout sports history, there has been a double standard between men and women. Whether it’s in compensation, representation, or endorsements, there is a prominent inequality that people have aimed to resolve for years. But for years, the solution to the disparity between men’s and women’s athletics has been to prop female athletes up separately from male athletes – and, in the process, to other them completely. Rather than achieve equitable representation, it seems women who are athletes get more press because of their gender than because of their skill.
For many female athletes, this pseudo-parity doesn’t cut it. Female athletes need to be appreciated for what they bring for their sport, not just compared with the men’s game. The brand Women Ball Too came to be in hopes of bringing female athletes the recognition they deserve.
What started as a campaign to raise awareness for powerful female athletes has now been transformed into a worldwide company and brand. The Women Ball Too campaign was launched in January of 2018 by Mar’Shay Moore, a former player on the University of Oregon’s women’s basketball team, and Donovan Neal, a current student at the University of Oregon’s Art and Technology Bachelor’s of Fine Art program. The duo started the campaign to encourage more students to attend women’s games. Today, Corinne Togia’i, a graduate student at the University of Oregon, has joined alongside Donovan Neal to keep the brand running. Through advertisement and endorsement from well-known athletes, the brand has gained rapid recognition, causing it to expand and spread its message to people all around the world.
Women Ball Too believes that there is meaning behind each word in their name.
The word “women”, for example, embodies their representation of the vital roles of all women in everyday life, not just athletes.
As expressed in their mission statement, they “not only want to encompass women in sports as athletes, but expand, engage, and encourage women in all facets: coaching, managing, ownership are just a few to name”. Further, to encourage the empowerment of women and change the stigma surrounding the gender, Women Ball Too uses sports as their medium of initiation, hoping to spread awareness beyond the court.
The word “ball” started as a basketball due to its founders’ ties to the sport, but as the company grew, so did this component of its name. “Balling” is no longer exclusively representative of female basketball players. Now, it has evolved into all sports, from golf to volleyball to anything in between.
Their mission statement also emphasizes that “most importantly, we are about WE, Women Excellence. We want to keep the ball rolling by bringing you the excitement and innovation that exists in women’s sports culture, and what will be the culture of the future.”
“Too” defines a contribution from both men and women to create greater awareness of–and appreciation for–women’s devotion to their sports. Both men and women are needed to play a part in building equity in sports.
According to the mission statement, “together, as a community, we can all take part in building the infrastructure that allows women’s sports culture to strive. Whether woman or man, we both contribute a valuable perspective towards our shared purpose of changing the culture around women’s sports and striving towards excellence.”
The beauty of Women Ball Too lies in its ability to be defined by anyone; each individual supporter of the brand is able to formulate their own idea on what the phrase means to them.
Trisha Razdan (‘21) found Women Ball Too through their extensive social media presence.
“The brand symbolizes ‘girl power’ to me,” Razdan said. “As a girl in sports, having the phrase ‘women ball too’ is like telling people ‘we are here and we are good.’ I think it’s time women get the respect they deserve for devoting themselves to their respective sports.”
The brand continues to expand today, but their main endorser from the beginning has been the Women’s Oregon Basketball Team, who is arguably one of the top collegiate women’s basketball teams today. Erin Boley, a starter for the Oregon Ducks, credits a lot of the support towards their team to Women Ball Too.
“I think our team has grown a lot of support especially locally around Oregon for women’s athletics, and it has been really cool to see Women Ball Too as a representation of that support that we have been given,” Boley said. “I am a huge supporter of any kind of movement that gets female athletes to be seen as role models for the younger generation of women.”
The entire city of Eugene, Oregon has taken to uplifting Women Ball Too and promoting their message. Wandering through the hallways of the University of Oregon, or even simply spending time in the city itself, it’s commonplace to pass students and passersby wearing Women Ball Too apparel.
Senior Brenna Cody at Oak Hill High School, just outside of Eugene, has been following the Women Ball Too campaign from the start.
“As [Women Ball Too] grew, so did the general awareness of the brand and of women’s basketball in Eugene, and it became more and more likely to see spectators in the audience wearing the merch,” Cody said.
With this growing awareness, the brand has been able to expand outside of Eugene, impacting individuals everywhere.
Ultimately, the goal of Women Ball Too is to continue redefining the professional women’s sports statement through female athletes’ voices and the women’s sports market.