2015 was a big year for American women in the male-dominated world of sports. The U.S. women's national soccer team pulled in a record number of viewers for its World Cup final victory over Japan. The NFL hired both its first female referee and its first female coach. Serena Williams, arguably one of the greatest tennis players ever, further cemented her status as one of the best athletes of all time — male or female. Now in the final few days of the year, we can add another stellar performance to the list of women who stood out in male-driven sports in 2015: Shannon Szabados.
Szabodos is a goaltender for the Columbus Cottonmouths of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), and was a crucial part of Canada's gold medal-winning teams in both 2010 and 2014. Over the holiday weekend, she stopped all 33 shots she faced to earn a 3-0 win over the Huntsville Havoc. Although the SPHL is somewhat far below the NHL, it's an incredibly impressive feat, especially considering Szabodos is 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds, much smaller than any average professional male goalie. The performance also came on the heels of a game in which she allowed seven goals on 51 shots to the Peoria Rivermen.
Clearly she was amped on the achievement herself:
As Szabodos keeps blazing the trail for women in hockey, the sport as a whole has slowly begun to shift as well. This year the National Women's Hockey League became the first on a pro level to pay players, and along with the Canadian Women's Hockey League, it's creating much better exposure for female hockey players. Not only can they enjoy pay for their hard work, but also have an established league to continue their careers in after graduating from college.
Thanks to stars like Szabodos, this trend will likely continue, providing female athletes an opportunity to further demonstrate their abilities on a level on par with their male counterparts. Credit to her for standing tall and minding the net in front of players of all sizes, skills, and genders.
Cover image: NAIT via Flickr