Women Sports Film Festival gives an unexpected platform


Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

If someone asked me a year ago what I’d be doing now, my answer definitely wouldn’t be speaking on panels.

On Sept. 28 through Oct. 2 the Women Sports Film Festival took place in Oakland and I had the opportunity to attend as not only a staff member, but also a speaker on two separate panels.

The festival was one to remember, in which I met so many incredible people, including coordinator Susan Sullivan, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir who fought to overturn the FIBA hijab ban, WNBA legend Chamique Holdsclaw, and Alison Desir founder of Run4allwomen a movement that embodies running for freedom.

At the festival I was able to view a series of notable films and documentaries curated by amazing women, that highlighted the everyday push and fight for equality that women have to make on a daily basis in the sports world.

Perhaps my favorite film I watched was T-REX — a documentary on American boxer Claressa Shields. It showed her journey from her impoverished hometown of Flint, Michigan to the Olympic Stage at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.

This film was shown on day two of the Film Festival, Friday the 29th at a private segment called “Girls Day,” an event strictly dedicated to 130 middle school girls at the New Parkway Theater, in Oakland.

The goal of the event was to keep girls in sports. As a young woman navigating my way through the sports world, I modeled how sports is a viable career, even if you never play professionally.

I played soccer for 12 years of my life, before stopping my freshman year of college and transitioning into a different form of sports representation; writing about sports and working in sports. It’s important young girls are aware of the other possibilities in the sports world, beyond the professional level.

There are plenty of ways to remain in the industry, even if you do not play whether that’s being a reporter, a sports writer, or president of a team.

Your sports journey doesn’t have to come to halt when you stop playing.

I was honored to have been a voice for these young girls and at the same time it was strange that I was in this position, I feel like my journey has just started.

The next day I attended the “Everyday Activism,” panel. A panel where Abdul-Qaadir, Holdsclaw, and Desir spoke on how they use their athleticism to make tidal waves of change in policy, women’s reproductive rights, mental health, and the future of sports.

This conversation was important and one of my personal favorite events at  the festival, as the panelists spoke on the current racial injustices in America, the Trump Administration, Police brutality, the NFL, and more.

My final day at the festival, Sunday October 1st, I was invited to speak on another panel titled, “Coffee and Conversations.”

Coffee and Conversations was a panel discussion with five women; Rita Forte, Amanda Lesky, Emma Leyden, Kim Woozy, and myself. All five of us are founders and creators who didn’t wait for permission, rather they built communities, blogs, podcasts, and media channels they want to see in the world.

I was asked to speak because of the website I created titled “Lemonade on the Bleachers” which is a platform that give individuals to share their work and also my short documentary “No Limits” which highlights the success of women of color and how they rejected the idea of limits.

I was the youngest on this panel, by 10 years and was honestly taken back that I was asked to speak. I never thought, that at the age of 20 I’d be speaking in front of women considerably older than me, as a source of inspiration.

We talked about rejecting fear and manifesting your visions, regardless of what others think. Quite honestly, that was the theme of the Women’s Sports FIlm Festival. Being a woman and just going for it, igniting change, making things happen, regardless of others opinion.

I take pride in living my own daily life like this. Just doing what it is I want to do, and being unapologetic about it. This festival only motivated me to continue to do so. I was honored to be apart of this amazing event.

It’s important to follow through on your visions, whether young or old, because you never know who is watching what you do.

There could be 130 girls waiting for you to inspire them.