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From Courtside to Community: Women's Collective Power

Written By: Marney Andes

During my collegiate athletic journey, there's a moment that remains etched in my memory: looking across the gymnasium during one of our first home games to find thirty of my sorority sisters in the stands, proudly holding handmade signs that spelled out "Go, Marney Loper." Without them, the stands would’ve been nearly empty. Their support meant the world to me as I transitioned from a high school athlete in Wallace, Nebraska, to a full-ride scholarship recipient at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (aka "Lopers"), a Division II school in the NCAA.

Growing up in Wallace, we cultivated an avid following for girls' basketball, transforming sparse stands into packed crowds. Our hometown support knew no bounds; they followed us wherever we played. However, when I transitioned to college basketball, it was a monumental leap, not just in terms of the game's intensity but also in experiencing near-empty gyms devoid of the vibrant crowds I was accustomed to. It wasn't that people weren't watching college basketball; instead, the enthusiasm for women's games was lacking.

Research conducted by organizations such as the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and the Women's Sports Foundation sheds light on the disparities faced by women in sports. Despite female athletes demonstrating equal skill, dedication, and athleticism, they often encounter systemic barriers that limit their visibility and opportunities for advancement. Studies have found significant disparities in media coverage, funding, and sponsorship for women's sports, contributing to the perception that they are less important or exciting than men's.

Fast-forward to the 2024 Women's March Madness Tournament, and we can see that the landscape of women's sports is evolving, marked by significant milestones and achievements. The tournament was a spectacle marked by the brilliance of players like Caitlin Clark, Kamilla Cardoso, Paige Bueckers, and JuJu Watkins and the coaching from figures like Tara VanDerveer, Kara Lawson, and Dawn Staley. The tournament's newfound excitement was palpable, underscored by the commentary of ESPN analysts Andraya Carter and Chiney Ogwumike.

During one of the pivotal Elite Eight games, Carter shared her thoughts on the moment: "I know what we are witnessing is spectacular. But we got here from all of the women basketball athletes that paved the way for years." It was a realization long overdue. I wondered if our lack of following attributed it to our supposed inadequacies. Yet, Carter's insight made me see that my peers and I were integral to this movement. We persevered through empty gyms, keeping girls' sports' flame alive, hoping our efforts would eventually produce results.

Reflecting on this journey, I see a profound truth: our collective struggles have birthed a women's movement, which is evident not only in basketball but in various arenas. Women who support each other, regardless of expertise or field, amplify their strength. Research indicates community support is crucial in empowering women and promoting gender equality. By fostering networks of solidarity and encouragement, women can overcome systemic barriers and achieve more tremendous success collectively.

This paradigm shift extends beyond the realm of sports. It speaks to a broader narrative of women's empowerment and solidarity, transcending boundaries and reshaping societal norms. The emergence of slogans like "Everyone watches women's sports" underscores a growing recognition of women's abilities beyond the court. It's a rallying cry for unity, reminding us that together, as a community, we share in each other's victories. It serves as a platform for empowerment, allowing women to challenge stereotypes, defy expectations, and assert their presence in traditionally male-dominated spaces. 

In academia, for example, women are forming networks and support systems to navigate the challenges of research, publishing, and career advancement. Organizations like Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) provide a platform for female researchers and academics to share resources, mentorship, and advocacy efforts to promote gender equity in STEM fields.

Similarly, in the corporate world, women are leveraging their voices to advocate for equal pay, leadership opportunities, and workplace policies prioritizing gender diversity and inclusion. Initiatives like the #MeToo movement have sparked conversations about workplace harassment and discrimination, leading to greater awareness and accountability in corporate environments.

Women in the arts and entertainment industry are coming together to amplify their voices and demand equal representation and opportunities. From the Time's Up movement to initiatives like the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, female artists, writers, and performers advocate for greater diversity and inclusion in film, television, and other media platforms.

In politics, women mobilize their collective power to effect change and advance gender equality. From grassroots organizing to running for office, women are harnessing their strength in numbers to challenge the status quo and build a more inclusive and representative democracy.

And in an era where connection is paramount, the power of women coming together in supportive communities cannot be overstated. Research consistently underscores the myriad benefits when women unite to support each other. 

1. Enhanced Mental Health. Research suggests that social support networks significantly contribute to women's mental well-being. When women come together in a supportive community, they feel more understood, valued, and less alone. This sense of belonging can buffer against stress, anxiety, and depression. Studies have shown that women who have strong social connections tend to have lower levels of psychological distress and higher levels of self-esteem.

2. Increased Empowerment and Confidence. When women support each other, they often share experiences, insights, and resources to empower one another. Research indicates that women's groups can serve as platforms for skill-building, mentorship, and advocacy, fostering a sense of agency and confidence. Being part of a supportive community can help women recognize and leverage their strengths, pursue their goals with greater determination, and challenge societal norms that limit their potential.

3. Professional and Personal Growth. Women's networks provide valuable opportunities for

professional and personal development. Research shows that women in supportive communities often have access to networking opportunities and knowledge-sharing platforms that can advance their careers and personal growth. These communities may offer workshops, seminars, and skill-building sessions tailored to women's needs, helping them acquire new skills, navigate challenges, and explore career opportunities.

4. Improved Physical Health. Social support networks can also positively impact women's physical health. Studies have found that women with strong social connections tend to engage in healthier behaviors, such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and preventive healthcare practices. Additionally, having a supportive community can provide encouragement and accountability for adopting healthy habits and seeking medical assistance when needed. A supportive community can lead to better health outcomes and a higher quality of life for women.

5. Collective Voice and Advocacy. Women's communities often serve as platforms for collective action and advocacy on issues affecting women's rights, equality, and well-being. Research suggests that when women unite to amplify their voices and advocate for change, they can influence policies, challenge stereotypes, and address systemic barriers. By standing in solidarity and leveraging their collective strength, women can drive social, political, and cultural transformations that benefit both themselves and future generations.

As women lean on one another for guidance, encouragement, and advocacy, they cultivate environments where individual growth flourishes and collective voices resonate. By recognizing and nurturing these bonds, we honor the strength of solidarity and unlock boundless potential for positive change. In embracing the power of community, women forge pathways toward greater equality, well-being, and shared prosperity for generations to come.

And yet, there is still much work to do.

Despite significant progress, women face formidable challenges that demand collective action and solidarity. The persistent gender pay gap, under representation in leadership, and pervasive gender-based violence underscore the urgent need for systemic change. Moreover, intersectional discrimination, unpaid care work, societal pressures on body image, and ongoing debates surrounding reproductive rights and health highlight the multifaceted issues that women navigate daily.

Women must come together now. 

By amplifying our voices and advocating for gender equity, including reproductive rights and access to comprehensive healthcare, we can drive meaningful change in our workplaces, communities, and societies. But perhaps the most important reason to come together in community is this:

  • When we create a space in which we can be intentional with our words and actions, not seeking to fix each other but celebrating all that we collectively have to offer, we can see each other.

  • We are seen by each other.

  • We can see what's possible for all of us.

Guided by the foundational principle, women united in community share the victory. 

Even as I write this article, my commitment to my fellow women has only deepened. Whether it's leading in careers, families, or personal growth, I continue to double down on women. The journey from humble beginnings of girls' basketball in small-town Nebraska to witnessing first-hand the progress of women athletes on the grand stage of March Madness exemplifies the power of perseverance, resilience, and collective action. As we witness the positive impact of championing women's sports endeavors, we see the profound strength of community. Progress highlights the collective power that arises when individuals come together in solidarity. If we continue to rally together, united in community, we amplify our collective strength, experiencing that together, we are stronger.

Works Cited

Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport. "Home." Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport,

Women's Sports Foundation,

Women in STEM,

Time's Up Movement,

Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media,

Andes, Marney. Start with the Give-Me Shots: 8 Homegrown Lessons for Business and Life.

Marney Andes Bio:

Marney Andes is a consultant, educator, and entrepreneur who has dedicated her career to supporting teams and individuals as they develop and grow. She owns and operates Dynamic Intention, an organization that specializes in crafting tailored leadership development and culture programs, providing executive coaching and team facilitation, and designing immersive personal leadership workshops for women.

Marney is the best-selling author of "Start with the Give-Me Shots: 8 Homegrown Lessons for Business and Life," which has garnered praise for its heartfelt wisdom and actionable insights for personal and professional success.

Marney holds a master's degree in information and learning technologies from the University of Colorado Denver and currently resides in the Denver metro area. To learn more about Marney and Dynamic Intention, visit

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