Celebrating 22 influential Canadians in sports ahead of International Women’s Day
Influence comes in all forms in the world of sports.
Some pull strings behind the scenes, others play an integral part on the sidelines, and there are the athletes who inspire the next generation to think maybe, just maybe, they can do it too.
Tuesday is International Women’s Day, and we’re celebrating 22 of those influential Canadian women: women who continue to break down barriers in an industry that is often still not welcoming, where their presence is far from the norm; and women who show young girls they can stay in the game, that the rate of participation in sport by Canadians girls doesn’t have to continue to decline.
It is far from an exhaustive list of all the powerhouse Canadian women in sports.
As we wrote a year ago, the presence of these women and the influence they have doesn’t mean there isn’t work still to be done. The sports world is not yet at a point where being a woman and a scout, or a general manager, or an agent, is normalized. The roles women tend to occupy in sport are at a lower level than those of their male counterparts. The pipelines do not exist to consistently produce female candidates. Diversity is wanting, in sports and on this list. And media coverage of women’s sport in general is still severely lacking.
Highlighting women’s successes one day, or month, a year is not going to change these foundational issues. But International Women’s Day remains an opportunity to celebrate some of the most influential Canadian women in sports today, role models who use their sway to create a better environment for all the people who will come after them.
And there’s sure to be more, if these women have anything to say about it.
Director of major-league operations, New York Mets
Benn has long paved paths for women in baseball. The Toronto native was the first woman to play in the New York Metro Baseball League., and she has worked in the Major League Baseball office since 2017, starting as an intern and taking on roles from labour relations, diversity and inclusion to baseball development and operations. Benn is the highest-ranked female baseball operations employee in Mets history.
Assistant general manager, Vancouver Canucks
Castonguay made the jump from being the first female agent certified by the NHL Players’ Association — representing such clients as New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafrenière and Olympic star Marie-Philip Poulin — to being the first female assistant general manager in Vancouver Canucks history in January. The Montreal native will play a lead role in player contracts and negotiations, and will manage the collective bargaining agreement.
Chef de mission, Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
The 19-time Paralympic Games swimming medallist has a number of other titles on her resumé, including coach, mentor, speaker, broadcaster and advocate for inclusivity. The Whitehorse native continues to be a strong presence in the para sport community in Canada and globally. Dixon is working toward a master’s degree in kinesiology at the University of Toronto.
Chief marketing officer, Golf Canada