Macau provides Spooner and Mikkelson with Grand Slam on Amazing Race Canada

An unforgettable adventure provided Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson with their fourth consecutive victory on The Amazing Race Canada. Of all their victories, this was certainly the most hard-earned. In the episode titled “They’re Harshing Our Mellow”, tensions seem to have come to the surface as Canada’s hockey heroes are becoming the target of envy among their fellow competitors.

As winners of the third leg of the race, Spooner and Mikkelson had the privilege of leaving Hong Kong first (towards Macau) at 12:02 pm. Meanwhile, their closest competition left more than one later at 1:07 pm. Despite the significant time advantage, the first boat leaving for Macau was scheduled for 4:00 pm. As a side note, of the eight teams remaining, four were allowed to be on the 4:00 pm boat.

One the four teams from the first boat arrived at Macau, Spooner and Mikkelson’s athleticism and quick thinking brought them back to the top. Managing to find their way to the front of the line (they asked the residents if they could cut in as they were in a hurry) and grab the first taxi available. Heading to the A-Ma temple first (the first stop in the fourth leg of the race), Spooner and Mikkelson light fireworks in a tradition that is meant to ward evil spirits. From there, they quickly head over to the next destination, the AJ Hackett Macau Tower, a 61-story tower that presents the first road block in the fourth leg of the race.

Dressed in traditional Macinese dancing garb, Spooner and Mikkelson struggle on how best to learn the steps (Image obtained from Amazing Race Canada website)

Dressed in traditional Macinese dancing garb, Spooner and Mikkelson struggle on how best to learn the steps (Image obtained from Amazing Race Canada website)

Going to the very top of the tower, one member of each team had to engage in the world’s largest commercial bungee jump (764 feet high), as recognized by the Guinness World Records. Mikkelson assumed the reins, although an element of nervousness seemed evident on the elevator ride up. With a camera attached to her helmet, there was no place to hide. Once she jumped off the platform, her facial expression displayed a mix of adrenaline, relaxation, composure and confidence as her efforts contributing to a growing lead.

Unfortunately, the lead would be diminished as the duo proceeded to Happiness Street. Frantically searching for the retail store that sold almond cookies (which would supply the clue for the next aspect of the race), they opted to team up with Pierre and Michel Forget. Once again, this would prove to be smart strategy as working with the French Canadian twins resulted in finding the venue. As Spooner and Mikkelson have an option of allocating an express pass in the fifth leg of the race, Pierre and Michel may likely be the beneficiaries.

Presented with a Detour, the teams had the choice to Stamp It or Stomp It. The Stamp It option consisted of a labyrinth where shrines featuring Chinese emblems had to be stamped on a parchment. On the other hand, Stomp It was the chance to engage in a traditional Macinese dance while wearing traditional Portugese garb. Taking into account that the Stomp It Option seemed to be the easiest and quickest, it would be a popular option throughout the episode.

Studying the gambling tables in order to learn the game of Fan Tan (Image obtained from Amazing Race Canada website)

Studying the gambling tables in order to learn the game of Fan Tan (Image obtained from Amazing Race Canada website)

With Mikkelson disclosing that she was not a good dancer, it presented the first obstacle that they have faced since the race began. Failing twice in their attempts, Spooner pleaded that the best way to learn was to participate whiel Mikkelson countered that observing would be a preferred method.

The frustrations of the dance would allow other teams to catch up. As a side note, one team went to the video confessional to joke that dancing was the one weakness that the Olympians had. Spooner, dressed in the traditional male dancer’s garb, was taking the lead. Avoiding disaster, she would help lead Mikkelson into a successful third attempt, as the lead was back in their grasp.

A jubilant Spooner and Mikkelson celebrate their fourth consecutive victory (Obtained from Amazing Race Canada website)

A jubilant Spooner and Mikkelson celebrate their fourth consecutive victory (Obtained from Amazing Race Canada website)

Once again, frustrations reared its ugly head as they progressed to the third aspect of the leg in Macau. Observing the gambling tables of the Grand Lapa hotel, in order to learn the traditional game of Fan Tan, Spooner tried to offer Mikkelson advice. She abruptly replied that Spooner should look after her own part of the game.

Maintaining her composure, Spooner would show strong leadership again. Despite some other teams catching up to them at the casino, Spooner cracked the code of the game, retaining the lead once again. With the final part of the leg in the race featuring the navigation of an underground tunnel, it would prove to be of minimal challenge.

An exuberant Spooner and Mikkelson would emerge as winners for the fourth consecutive time, a grand slam. In addition to winning $3000 for their ScotiaBank Gold, a vacation to Tokyo, Japan on Air Canada’s 787 jet was the extra portion of the prize. As a side note, Spooner held a viewing party (her second this TV season) at Real Sports, found in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square, where women’s hockey players such as Christine Bestland, Jenny Brine and Carolyne Prevost were in attendance as a gesture of support.

With the fifth leg of the race returning to Canada, Spooner and Mikkelson will encounter some freezing conditions in the Yukon, as dog sledding shall be a significant part of said leg. Taking into account that they will also have to decide which team to bestow an express pass upon, it may prove to be their biggest challenge yet.

Women in sport part of popular Lake Tahoe celebrity golf event

One of the most popular events during the golf season, the American Century Championships at Lake Tahoe is a celebrity-filled event with actors, recording artists, sportscasters and athletes (active and retired) who have a passion for golf. Considering that over 80 celebrities were registered for the 2014 edition of the event, its popularity continues to grow. Of note, the event utilizes the Stableford Scoring System (a system of points used for a Birdie, Eagle, Ace, Bogey).

With fellow US hockey Olympian Jeremy Roenick (left) at Lake Tahoe. Image obtained from Twitter

With fellow US hockey Olympian Jeremy Roenick (left) at Lake Tahoe. Image obtained from Twitter

Contested at Edgewood Tahoe South from July 15-20, one of the unique aspects was the fact that three women of sport participated. Lisa Cornwell, a popular broadcaster with the Golf Channel, LPGA living legend Annika Sorenstam and Hilary Knight, a two-time silver medalist in women’s hockey at the Winter Games were competing against a male-dominated field. As a side note, all three were participating in this event for the first time.

While Sorenstam has played against men before, there is no question that her superior golf skills made her a contender to win the tournament. The local sports book reported that most monies had been placed on Sorenstam to win the event. As a side note, Sorenstam came out of retirement in order to compete in this event for the first time. Taking into account that Sorenstam has a residence at Squaw Valley’s Incline Village, she holds a familiarity for the Lake Tahoe-area courses.

A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, she is the proud owner of 89 event championships, including 10 majors on the LPGA tour. Although this was her first time competing, she has attended as a fan for several years. This year, iconic race car driver Danica Patrick was in attendance as a fan, gracious with fans and posing for photos.

Lisa Cornwell would finish the tournament tied for 53rd with legendary National Hockey League goaltender Martin Brodeur. Under the Stableford System, Cornwell shot a 5 on Friday and Saturday. On the final day of competition, she would finish with a -3 as inclement weather caused a delay. A former Arkansas Female Athlete of the Year, she also played collegiate golf at Southern Methodist University and the University of Arkansas.

Throughout her career, she is not a stranger to golfing with some notable individuals. At the tender age of 8 years old, she met Lou Holtz, who gave her a high-five after making her first birdie. On the junior golf circuit, she partnered with Tiger Woods, and in her adult life, enjoyed playing with her cousin, former United States President Bill Clinton.

Meeting a young fan at the 25th American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. Image obtained from Twitter

Meeting a young fan at the 25th American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe. Image obtained from Twitter

Hilary Knight, one of the most popular (and talented) women’s hockey players in the world has quickly emerged as the face of USA Hockey. She was joined by six others that have competed in ice hockey at the Winter Games. Of note, three had experience with USA Hockey, including Mike Eruzione, a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. Eruzione was joined by Jeremy Roenick, a silver medalist at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games and T.J. Oshie, who competed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Gold medalists Martin Brodeur and Joe Sakic were part of Hockey Canada when they graced the ice.

Despite the hockey connection, there were several other unique sporting connections for Knight. Other US Olympians at the event included Mardy Fish, a silver medalist in tennis, Dan Jansen, who earned gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games and Bode Miller, one of the most accomplished skiers in US history. Taking into account that Knight played collegiately at the University of Wisconsin, the other connection involved three past and current members of the Green Bay Packers football club; Aaron Rodgers, Jim McMahon and Sterling Sharpe.

Charles Barkley, a member of the 1992 United States Basketball Dream Team (competing in his 19th year) was the only player who finished ahead of Knight on the first day. Shooting a 34-over total of 106, he was two strokes better than Knight, who was a golf novice. On the day of competition on Saturday July 20, Knight would show great patience on the course, as she struggled on the 15th hole. Her drive went to the right from the tee and landed far into the woods. Eventually finding the bunker to the left of the green, multiple putts resulted in a difficult hole.

Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley jokingly shows World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam some tips on her swing. (Image obtained from Twitter)

Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley jokingly shows World Golf Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam some tips on her swing. (Image obtained from Twitter)

Although she acknowledged that many aspects of her game need improvement, she was all smiles throughout the weekend, making herself accessible to fans, and gaining some new ones. Golfing with famous sitcom dad Alan Thicke, he would state on social media that he just became a big fan of Knight. Thicke would finish 82nd in the standings, while Knight would manage to finish 85th, five strokes better than Barkley. Throughout the three days, Knight showed improvement. She would log -36 points (Friday), -30 points (Saturday) and -27 points (Sunday).

Sorenstam was definitely the most talked about player of the event. With the event covered on NBC Sports, the announce team of Bob Papa and Roger Maltbie acknowledged she was a competitor throughout the event. On the final day, she was partnered with former Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer and long-time celebrity golfer, Jack Wagner. While she never had control of the lead, she did finish tied for second with Roenick, both registering a total score of 65.

On the final day, Sorenstam shot a 23, placing herself within reach of the title. Throughout the back nine, former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien would dominate, shooting an astounding 33 on the day, beating Sorenstam and Roenick by 11 points. The two would each earn $57,500 for their second place tie. Already invited to return next year, Sorenstam is indecisive.

Physically and emotionally strong women part of 2014 ESPN Body Issue

As the 2014 edition of the ESPN Body Issue hits newsstands, the female athletes that are featured provide a message of inspiration and empowerment. In years past, sex appeal was a very significant factor. While the magazine is a diverse celebration of what makes an athlete’s physique so captivating, the overcoming of unique struggles among the female athletes that choose to appear has the ultimate appeal.

Jamie Anderson, who competed in Snowboarding at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, is a free spirit that has gone against convention while finding the confidence to succeed. As one of eight children, Anderson comes from a background where she was homeschooled and opted to not have a coach in her teens.

Having experienced the pinnacle of her sport, she treats her body with a natural and holistic approach. Methods such as yoga, meditation, reading, burning sage and incense are among her favorites. Along with a competitor from Norway (Kjersti Buaas), being in the presence of trees provides a sense of peace and serenity that provides relaxation should nerves prevail before a contest.

With calmness as one of her best qualities, she proves that a healthy mind is a key factor in a healthy body. Any discussion on the body is one where Anderson engages in the wonder of its healing properties. After rupturing her spleen several years ago, the ability to recover from it helps place value on her health and body.

Following in the footsteps of her sister Serena (who appeared on the cover of the Body Issue in 2009), Venus appeared in the 2014 edition. Her appearance is a real opportunity to celebrate the battle she has had with Sjorgen’s syndrome.

Despite being a world class tennis player, the syndrome is one where an individual can experience extreme fatigue. Although she acknowledges it was a life-changing experience, she also states that she does not like being defeated by anything.


Crediting her father with advice on new techniques, these alternative approaches to her game are testament to the creativity that she wants to bring to her game. Her willingness to always find a solution is what makes her a true role model.

One of the world’s most popular hockey players, Hilary Knight’s appearance in the Body Issue is one that may have brought about positive change. Considering that she added muscle to her frame (weighing 185 pounds) heading into the Sochi Winter Games, she talks about how there were concerns about muscle not being sexy.

Her appearance is one that helps challenge perceptions about body image and perceived views on weight. Challenging such notions, Knight proves that a woman should be able to feel comfortable in her own skin. As a side note, the ESPN web site even featured an infographic on how Knight got her physique.


With ambitions to compete in the triathlon, Danyelle Wolf made the transition to boxing because she was told by a trainer that she had the build of a fighter. Although she initially met resistance as she was told she could not succeed because she was a woman, it would prove to be the first of many obstacles that she overcame.

Currently a two-time US national champ and a member of the US national team, she has made believers out of her doubters. Proud of her chiseled physique, she also believes that there is more to the image of a boxer than a rough and tumble fighter. Highly educated, she also enjoys adorning herself in high heels and dresses, appreciating fashion.

Having gone from track and field to bobsled, Aja Evans has made the athletic transition similar to Wolf. While Wolf faced criticism over her gender, Evans faced concerns over looking too muscular. Although she does rely on ice cream as comfort food, Evans acknowledges that learning to embrace her physique was the turning point in her athletic life, making her feel invincible.

In Evans’ life, athletics runs in the family. Of note, her brother Fred is a Defensive Tackle with the Minnesota Vikings. Their father was an avid swimmer while mother ran track and field. Former major league baseball player Gary Matthews is an uncle, while current player Gary Matthews, Jr. is their cousin.

Having had the luxury of training with NFL stars, she learned quickly that off the field, friendship trumps competition. Like so many track stars, she made the transition to bobsled and it resulted in a bronze medal at the Winter Games. Despite the competition (only nine bobsledders travel during the season), she understood the values of teamwork as she was part of the four-woman bobsled team.

A superstar with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, Angel McCoughtry has endured her share of physical and emotional scars. As a star player, she endured many cheap shots as a way of trying to get her off her game. Playing against boys when she was younger, blocking their shots would serve in verbal jabs, forcing her to tell others to treat her as a player and not as a girl.

Growing up, she endured many problems on the way she perceived herself due to her size. This was compounded by corns on her feet from wearing smaller-sized shoes as a child. Although she reflects on it as a mistake, she hopes it proves to young players that they need to be proud of who they are.

Amy Purdy, photographed by Zack Johnson

Amy Purdy, photographed by Zack Johnson

Professional surfer Coco Ho was captured on her surf board wearing nothing but confidence as she shared her own concerns about being muscular. Acknowledging that she had the legs of a gymnast, she mentioned that it took time to appreciate how the power of her legs made her powerful.

The love of the waves is definitely in Ho’s blood. Just like Aja Evans came from an athletic family, Ho’s family made their mark in surfing. Her uncle Derek was the first male world champion to come from Hawaii. Her father retired from competition as a two-time Triple Crown winner, while her borther actively competes today.

In a sport like surfing where everyone wears swimsuits, she feels that fans are more interested in the most attractive competitors rather than the most successful athletes. While it is an uphill struggle for the sport, she hopes the results will eventually serve as the substance in a female surfer’s career.

Of all the women that chose to be part of the 2014 edition of the ESPN Body Issue, Amy Purdy may have brought the most courage. Despite her disability of no longer having her legs, losing them at the age of 19 due to septic shock), Purdy approaches it with a remarkable perspective. Recognizing that the mind gives up before the body does, her enjoyment for life is only stronger.

Trying to figure out what was possible and what she could do with her prosthetic limbs was more important than self-pity. Surviving a coma that sidelined her for two and a half weeks was the greatest triumph in her life, setting the stage for more victories to come.
Being able to find a way to snowboard again would prove to be a source of inspiration for future fans. Despite struggles with kidney failure and weighing as low as 83 pounds, she never missed a snowboarding season. Even with the loss of her legs, she can still feel pressure, enhancing the awareness of her body and how to position herself in competition.

Recognizing the beauty of her beauty and accepting that muscle can be feminine is a common theme among these remarkable women who have captured the hearts and minds of sports fans the world over. Appearing in the ESPN Body Issue is more than just a celebration of their athletic accomplishments; it is an opportunity to understand that their past struggles are an endearing quality that shows a soft, human side. While these are women that are world class athletes, the ability to talk about the acceptance of their physiques and celebrate the overcoming of these mental hurdles makes them world class people.

Viewing party for Amazing Race Canada contestants hosted by hockey heroine Natalie Spooner

An opportunity to appear in the second season of The Amazing Race Canada continues to solidify Natalie Spooner’s standing as one of the rising stars in women’s hockey. Teaming up with second-generation player Meaghan Mikkelson (who has been featured in Sports Illustrated and Sportsnet Magazine), the two are a dazzling duo, making their Hockey Canada and CWHL teammates very proud.

With the debut of the second season resulting in Spooner and Mikkelson winning the first leg of the race, hockey fans were hoping they could maintain their winning momentum for the second leg. Adding to the anticipation was the opportunity to attend a viewing party for Team Natalie and Meaghan and watch the second episode (titled “I kissed a fish”).

Held at Real Sports, a popular locale in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Square, fans also had the chance to meet Spooner, resulting in a Tuesday evening to remember for many hockey fans.


Taking into account that several of her past and present Toronto Furies teammates were also on hand to show their support, there was a great feeling of team spirit and friendship. Among the Furies on hand were the likes of Deirdre Norman (Furies game day planner), Karolina Urban (who was part of the Furies’ 2012-13 rookie class with Spooner) and fellow Clarkson Cup champions Kori Cheverie and Lisa Mullan.

Viewers on hand for the event were treated to a remarkable comeback by these empowering women. Akin to the emotional dramatics at the gold medal game of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Spooner and Mikkelson pulled off another miraculous triumph.

As the winner of the first leg of the race, they earned the privilege of departing first on therace’s second leg. Departing at 4:18 am, the second leg took them from Victoria to Tofino, British Columbia. Upon arrival at the Long Beach Airport, the first group of racers (which included the top three finishers from the first leg of the race) utilized a Chevrolet Volt to arrive at a fish processing plant for a race Detour.

In what was possibly the most exhausting challenge yet, teams had to opt between “sharp knives or sharp eyes” as teams could sort fish in numerous containers or attempt to filet to 30 pounds of fish. Spooner and Mikkelson were among a group of frustrated competitors who were facing challenges properly sorting the fish. It would result in the second group of racers (the fourth to sixth place finishers in the race’s first leg) to catch up.

Facing fourth place, Spooner and Mikkelson opted for cutting up the fish instead. This would prove to be a very effective strategy. Advancing to the next part of the race at North Chesterman Beach, smart strategy would once again define the comeback.

One competitor from each team had to endure the waves of the Pacific and stand on a surfboard for three seconds. Despite her best efforts, Spooner was mercilessly knocked over by the waves. Opting to replace her, Mikkelson stepped in and pulled it off on the first try.

Suddenly, the rest of the competitors could not gloat that they were ahead of the Olympians. As the final part of the race involved creating a Tofino beach chair out of fishing nets and driftwood, it would prove to be a stumbling block for many teams.

Within a matter of seconds, Spooner constructed the chair and the tester was able to sit in the chair without it breaking. It resulted in many friends commenting on social media that Spooner must have been a Girl Scout.

Running towards the finish, Mikkelson would leapfrog over Spooner to land on the Pit Spot that signified they won their second consecutive leg on the race. The result was a group of very relieved yet excited fans at the viewing party. For their victory in the second leg, each earned another $2000 on their Scotiabank Gold Card and a vacation to Hong Kong. Considering that the third leg of the race sees all competitors competing in Hong Kong, it will certainly help them prepare for when they take their vacation.

As a side note, the Furies commented on social media how they were in fourth place heading into the Clarkson Cup playoffs. Despite the low seeding, they would pull off a dramatic Cup victory, showing the coincidence between both fourth place standings.

Gracefully thanking everyone on social media for attending the viewing party, a jubilant Spooner announced that the next viewing party shall take place on July 29. It is certainly mandatory viewing for both hockey fans and Amazing Race fans.

Alexis Davis looking to end Ronda Rousey’s reign as UFC champion

As Ronda Rousey looks to successfully defend her UFC Bantamweight Women’s Title for the third consecutive time, Alexis Davis is looking to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the history of mixed martial arts. Boasting a 16-5 career mark, Davis has truly flown under the radar in MMA circles.

Heading into the July 5 bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Rousey vs. Davis (the only females to go 3-0 in UFC) is the co-main event of UFC 175. Sharing the spotlight will be middleweight title-holder Chris Weidman battling Lyoto Machida, a former light-heavyweight champion.

Hailing from Port Colborne, Ontario, Davis is now based out of San Jose, California. Known affectionately as Ally Gator, she has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has also practiced Muay thai.

Of note, she owned a 9-4 record when Rousey made her MMA debut in March 2011. Davis has certainly paid her dues in MMA. From earning the Raging Wolf Women’s Flyweight Championship in 2009, to competing at the Strikeforce and Invicta promotions, she is currently as the number 3 pound-for-pound MMA female fighter in the world.

The proud owner of an undefeated 9-0 mark, Rousey is a 10-1 favorite according to the UFC, while Vegas oddmakers have varied with 9-1 to 14-1 odds. With an average fight time of two minutes and 44 seconds, Rousey also possesses a takedown rate of 70.6 per cent.

After Davis suffered a loss to Sarah Kaufman (another Canadian) at a Strikeforce Event in March 2012, she has accumulated five consecutive wins. Of note, her three career UFC fights have all resulted in victories. Beginning on June 15, 2013, she defeated Rosi Sexton at an event in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Less than five months later, she bested Liz Carmouche in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Competing at UFC 170 on February 22, 2014, she won the decision over Jessica Eye. Ironically, all three victories came in the third round.

With Rousey’s signature move being her armbar, it is of the utmost importance that Davis prepares for it. Except for when her victory over Sarah McMann, Rousey has employed it in order to defeat every other opponent. Taking into account that Davis has never submitted in any of her 21 career matches, she may prove to be Rousey’s biggest challenge yet.

Keeping in mind that Rousey has engaged in several movie roles and a growing celebrity status, it would come as no surprise to MMA fans if she was not fully prepared or took Davis for granted. Quite possibly Rousey’s toughest opponent to date, she could end up being the only fighter to take Rousey the distance. Should she manage the upset and defeat Rousey, it would also mark her the third Canadian fighter (and first female) to hold the distinction of being a UFC champion, following Carlos Newton and Georges St. Pierre.

Jennifer Hammond covers the sporting heartbeat of one of America’s great sports cities

In an age when so many female sports reporter look like models, with the obligatory bikini pictures and/or cheesecake pictures on social media, it would be easy for the average male sports fan to feel intimidated. Fox 2 Detroit is challenging such a trend by featuring one of the most knowledgeable, likable women in sports journalism that fans can easily relate to.

Jennifer Hammond, one of the leading sports reporters for the channel, certainly comes across as someone that sports fans, male or female, would like to have a chat with about the state of sport. Avoiding fluff pieces or softball journalism, Hammond always asks the questions (politely) that fans would like to ask. This is enhanced by the fact that she comes across with a genuine interest, a sincerity that a non-sports fan could never imitate.

Known affectionately as the Hammer, her presence covers every aspect of Detroit sports. From Tigers baseball to Red Wings hockey, along with Pistons basketball, Lions football and the multitude of NCAA sports, she has her finger on the pulse of one of America’s great sporting cities. Having paid her dues for close to a decade as a traffic reporter and eventual sports announcer in Chicago, she has been part of Detroit’s sporting landscape for two decades now (starting at Sportsradio 1130).

In an era when so many young women aspire for careers in journalism, concerns over body image should not define one’s goals. Hammond serves as a positive role model, proving that hard work and research are the foundation towards the long-term goal of being a credible and respected journalist. Of note, one of the greatest highlights in her career may have come in November 2012. Along with Fox 2 sports anchor Dan Miller, the two were hosts at a Detroit Lions charitable event which featured NFL commissioner Roger Goddell.

When the WNBA’s Shock played in Detroit, it was a great sign of women’s sport making an impact in Detroit. Cheryl Ford, one of the greatest players in franchise history was part of a meet-and-greet that featured Hammond, along with heavyweight boxer Mary Jo Sanders. It truly signified an effort to help make women’s sport a serious and relevant part of the Detroit sporting conversation.

Taking into account that a group from Detroit has applied for an expansion franchise in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, there is no question that if it becomes reality, Hammond would be the perfect person to chronicle their exploits.

For a city that has provided memorable sports personalities such as Mitch Albom and Ernie Harwell, Hammond is following in the legacy of Anne Doyle, a female sports reporter in Detroit during the 1980s, in helping to break barriers. Fox 2 is one of many media outlets in Detroit setting a positive example by having a strong woman of substance as part of its sports coverage.

Arika Hoffman brings confidence to quarterback position with Toledo Crush

In a season that was marred by many obstacles, due to multiple cancellations and woes concerning ticket sales, it seemed like the Toledo Crush would never play a game. Relocation from Cleveland, the franchise was maligned by the loss of emotional leader Theresa Petruziello to the Omaha Heart. Said loss was compounded by the departure of promising quarterback Tia Knipper.

At any level of football, the quarterback tends to be one of the most identifiable (if not popular) players on the roster. Complemented by the glamour of the position, it is difficult for a rookie to step in and take the lead. Taking into the account that the Crush were looking for a new quarterback, they could not have asked for a better choice than rookie sensation Arika Hoffman.

The most important aspect of assuming the quarterback role, especially for a rookie is the poise and maturity required. In this regard, Hoffman has succeeded beyond all expectations. Similar to Las Vegas Sin rookie pivot Sindy Cummings and Dakota Hughes, another exceptional rookie quarterback lining up behind centre for the Atlanta Steam, Hoffman has made a remarkable impression in her debut.

With a background in basketball, softball and cross-country running at Liberty Centre High School, the 23-year old is more than just a multi-sport talent. Working as a nurse technician since last summer, Hoffman’s commitment to good health and elite physical performance is a way of life. She manages to also sandwich in work as a Personal Trainer. From one-on-one and group training to sport specific and bootcamp training, Hoffman certainly brings a tenacity and endurance. Such qualities will provide Toledo head coach Ben Kelly, a former NFL athlete with Miami and New England, with a key component to his offensive attack.

Competing on home soil against the Baltimore Charm, a consistent postseason contender, Hoffman gave one of the finest performances by a rookie quarterback making their debut in recent memory. Despite a new-look defense that allowed 54 points in the heartbreaking loss, Baltimore had already played one game this season, making them better prepared. Despite being sacked three times, Hoffman showed great resiliency, employing a never say die attitude.

Throwing four touchdowns in a remarkable display of offensive fireworks, her performance helped instill a sense of confidence for a team making its debut in front of the Toledo faithful at Huntington Center. Statistically, Hoffman finished the game ranked as the third highest rated passer in the league with a sparkling rating of 96.7. Notwithstanding completing only 42.9 percent of her passes, her passing yardage of 165 yards was the highest single game performance of any rookie quarterback this season.

Having already established herself as a leader, Hoffman’s shoulders do not have to bear such a burden alone. Tamar Fennell, the greatest player in the history of the franchise (also the only player to score a touchdown in the American, Australian and Canadian versions of the league), joined the franchise in its move to Toledo, ensuring a strong running game remains intact. The remarkable twin sister combination of Alisha and Amanda Linstrom (from Livonia) bring valuable experience to Toledo, having won the 2013 league title with the Chicago Bliss.

On a Toledo club with over a dozen new faces, Hoffman is not only injecting optimism into a club looking to finish the season with its first-ever playoff berth, she is emerging as the face of its franchise. Quickly capturing the hearts and minds of fans and teammates alike, Hoffman looks ready for greater performances this season.

Rising sports superstar Eugenie Bouchard covers Sportsnet Magazine

Riding the momentum of the highly celebrated Wimbledon tennis tournament, Eugenie Bouchard earned the rare honor of being featured on the cover of Sportsnet Magazine, one of Canada’s most popular magazines. The nod is certainly testament to Bouchard’s white-hot popularity, sex appeal and her status as one of Canada’s rising sports stars.

In the last year, Bouchard is only the second female athlete to appear on the cover of the periodical. The toher was mountain bike racer Emily Batty, adorned in a bathing suit for the “Beauty of Sport” edition. Although there is no question that Bouchard certainly deserves a chance to appear in a future edition of Beauty of Sport, she is part of a new generation of Canadian female sporting heroes, such as Christine Sinclair (soccer), Tessa Virtue (figure skating) and Natalie Spooner (hockey).

Unfortunately, the periodical did not have a feature story to back up her cover appearance. Highly respected columnist Stephen Brunt wrote a back-page commentary (where he can be found on every issue) about Bouchard’s impact. There was also a brief write-up in the opening section discussing her earnings and the fact that she shares the same coach as Jim Courier and Jennifer Capriati. Sadly, the lack of extensive coverage would seem to indicate there is an opportunity to expand female sporting coverage.

Despite the lack of a feature, Bouchard’s appearance on the cover raises the important question of why there are not more female athletes on the covers of sporting magazines. Besides the growing influence of female athletes as role models for young girls, it would add a much-needed boost of legitimacy that women’s sports are as competitive as their male counterparts.

Based on the year that Bouchard is having, it is highly possible that she could become the first female athlete to appear on the cover twice. This year alone, she has already exceeded $1 million in earnings. In a year, where she faced her childhood hero Maria Sharapova at the French Open, the possibility of becoming the first Canadian female to win a Grand Slam title only adds to the excitement.

Already making a strong case to win the Lou Marsh Trophy, awarded annually to Canada’s athlete of the year, she is certainly emerging as a candidate to be honored as Canada’s newsmaker of the year. All signs that Bouchard’s image may be gracing more magazine covers in her future.