5 female athletes from Pennsylvania to watch in 2024

5 Female Athletes From Pennsylvania To Watch In 2024

Photo courtesy of Pitt Volleyball via Instagram.

By Kalena Thomhave

March 21, 2024

The commonwealth is home to many talented female athletes, some of whom are poised to make an impact in 2024.

It’s not easy being a sports star and a woman. Female athletes not only work their bodies incredibly hard to succeed but they are also forced to grapple with sexism, especially as a woman in sports. (Have you heard that one in eight British men think they could score a point against Serena Williams? Yes, that Serena Williams).

While we can’t claim Serena, the Commonwealth is home to some talented female athletes — and many who will likely have an impressive year in 2024. We’ve put together a list of women to watch, all with ties to Pa. Whether these female athletes are stunning audiences at the Olympics or dominating on the college court, their skills demand your attention.

Ajee’ Wilson, Track and Field – Philadelphia

When the US competes in Paris this summer at the XXXIII Olympic Summer Games, we have a feeling Philadelphia’s Ajee’ Wilson will be running for a medal on the US team. Wilson, born in New Jersey but now based in Philly, is a middle-distance runner who has won world championship medals and holds both national and world records in 800-meter races.

Wilson is likely to race in early April at the 2024 Miramar Invitational as part of her path to the Olympics.

5 Female Athletes From Pennsylvania To Watch In 2024

Ajee’ Wilson in 2022 Oregon 800m heat courtesy of Erik van Leeuwen // GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

Olivia Babcock and the University of Pittsburgh Volleyball Team – Pittsburgh

While most fans of college sports focus on football and men’s basketball, the women’s volleyball team at the University of Pittsburgh recently made an incredible championship run that ended with the team in the Final Four and as regular season champions of their conference. As other Pittsburgh teams flounder, it seems it’s only a matter of time before the Panthers’ volleyball team clinches a national championship. Be sure to watch the Panthers when their season begins to see if this is the year Pitt makes it all the way!

Keep an eye on right-side hitter Olivia Babcock, a freshman who was named the Pittsburgh NCAA Regional Most Valuable Player and the conference’s Freshman of the Year. Babcock was one of two Pitt players recently named to the US Women’s National Training Team, allowing her to train with the coach of Team USA — which might signal an eventual Olympics appearance.

Alexa Gruschow, Professional Women’s Hockey League – Mechanicsburg

Women’s hockey is continuing to gain traction in the U.S., even after league shakeups in 2023 that eventually resulted in the formation of a new league, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). The PWHL has six professional women’s teams, three from the US and three from Canada, and debuted with its first game on Jan. 1 of this year. The teams — from Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto — don’t have official names yet, which is all the more reason to watch the league as it grows and evolves! Pittsburgh is gunning for its own PWHL teams, and a team could eventually come to Philadelphia too.

One player to watch is Alexa Gruschow, who is currently on reserve for the New York team. The 29-year-old from Mechanicsburg previously played for the Metropolitan Riveters in the National Women’s Hockey League and won the scoring title and the championship trophy with the Riveters in 2018.

5 Female Athletes From Pennsylvania To Watch In 2024

Alexa Gruschow courtesy of PWL New York.

Loretta Claiborne, Special Olympics Pennsylvania – York

The Special Olympics, the largest sports organization for athletes with intellectual disabilities, comes to Pa. this June when Special Olympics Pennsylvania hosts its Summer Games at Penn State University in State College. The three-day event will see more than 2,000 athletes competing in sports like track and field, basketball, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, and more — and you can attend to support the athletes and cheer them on! Famed Special Olympian and York native Loretta Claiborne is likely to be there, as she has competed in dozens of games. She started her athletic journey by running, but she has also competed in tennis, swimming, figure skating, bowling, and more. Last year, Claiborne won two tennis medals at the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin — at the age of 70!

5 Female Athletes From Pennsylvania To Watch In 2024

Loretta Claiborne courtesy of Special Olympics SoCal via Instagram.

Leah Smith, Freestyle Swimming – Pittsburgh

A native of Pittsburgh, swimmer Leah Smith has two Olympic and several world championship medals. As of now, she’s traded Pittsburgh’s cloudy skies for the warm weather of Austin, Texas, where she trains with the University of Texas women’s team. While the swimmer narrowly missed the 2020 Olympics, you should keep track of Smith’s possible path to the 2024 Olympics in Paris. You can follow Smith’s swimming routines, championship preparation, and her life as a professional swimmer in general on her Instagram.

5 Female Athletes From Pennsylvania To Watch In 2024

Leah Smith in 2018 courtesy of JD Lasica // CC BY 2.0 Deed.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.5 female athletes from Pennsylvania to watch in 20245 female athletes from Pennsylvania to watch in 2024




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