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Turn on your TV during the Summer or Winter Olympics, and your screen will be filled with some of the finest athletes in the world. A grand total of 11,238 athletes took place in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, and approximately half of them were women! Aside from the Olympics, women star in various professional sports around the world, including soccer and lacrosse. Some of the most influential female athletes in the world compete in both college and the professional levels, and they are an inspiration to everyone!

1. Alex Morgan

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There are plenty of advantages to living in Tallahassee, and one of them is being in close proximity to Orlando! Orlando is the home of Mickey Mouse and several professional sports teams. Take that four-hour drive down and you can watch one of the most talented female soccer players in the world! Alex Morgan is a star forward for the Orlando Pride who has been dominating the American soccer scene since 2007, scoring 201 goals and coming home from the FIFA Women’s World Cup with both a gold medal in 2015 and a silver medal in 2011!

2. Colleen Quigley​

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It just happens that one of the most prolific female American distance runners is a product of Florida State University! Colleen Quigley has run a blistering 4:24 mile along with one individual national championship and nine All-American honors while attending FSU! She finished in eighth place in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the 2016 Summer Olympics, earning her spot as the second fastest American steeplechase runner right now.

3. Aly Raisman

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This woman is more than just an influential athlete. Currently an advocate for sexual assault prevention amid a scandal surrounding the U.S. gymnastics program, Aly Raisman amassed six Olympic medals during her career. Retired at only 24, Raisman is part of the gymnastics team which won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, during which she became a national hero. Raisman received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for speaking out against her sexual abusers involved in the gymnastics scandal.

4. Lindsey Vonn

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Although injuries significantly impacted much of her career, Lindsey Vonn is still one of the most successful female skiers of all time. Vonn won multiple “Sportswoman of the Year” awards in 2010 after winning a gold medal in the downhill alpine skiing event. Collecting three Olympic medals and another eight from the World Championships, she is considered the second greatest skier of all time – male or female.

5. Manon Rhéaume

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How many times have you heard the sentence “A woman has never played in the MLB, NFL, NHL or NBA?” No matter how high that number is, it’s wrong. In 1992, Manon Rhéaume started a National Hockey League game in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although she only played two exhibition games over her very short career, she won several gold medals for Canada as well. As the first woman ever signed as a free agent to one of the four major professional North American sports leagues, Rhéaume paved the way for women everywhere to pursue professional sports careers and showed that it is indeed possible, all you have to do is try.

Whether you play a sport or not, female athletes can be some of the most influential people in our lives. Especially against the stereotype that major professional sports are for men, these women are inspiring millions of girls around the world on and off the field.

Katherine is a sophomore at Florida State University. She is passionate about reading, writing, sports, photography and almost anything else! Cat lover.
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