Maggie Steffens Recognized as Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year

Maggie Steffens WSF
Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo

Maggie Steffens Recognized as Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year

Maggie Steffens was recognized Wednesday night as the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Sportswoman of the Year in the team category at its annual Salute to Women in Sports banquet in New York City.

Steffens joins her American water polo teammate Ashleigh Johnson (2016) among the recent recipients of the award.

Steffens’ honor comes in the year that Salute to Women in Sports celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX. She was honored alongside gymnast Sunisa Lee and bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, along with basketball coach Dawn Staley and Alexis Ohanian, the husband of Serena Williams and the lead founding investor of Angel City Football Club in the NWSL.

Lee won the Sportswoman of the Year Award in the individual sports category. Meyers Taylor won the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. Staley earned the Billie Jean King Leadership Award, and Ohanian was given the Champion for Equality Award.

Steffens is one of the most accomplished water polo players in the world. She’s won the last three Olympic gold medals with the U.S. women’s powerhouse, being named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament in both the 2012 and 2016 Games. She’s the all-time leading scorer in Olympic women’s water polo history with 56 goals.

Steffens has also won four FINA World Championships gold medals and three NCAA titles with Stanford University. She is a three-time FINA World Player of the Year (2012, 2014, 2021).

Steffens used her acceptance speech to seek a larger spotlight for the sport. For all the success that the American women have had, she lamented that the team hasn’t experienced, “that ‘99 World Cup moment,” referencing the U.S. women’s soccer team that catalyzed widespread support for the game by winning the World Cup in the United States that year. Steffens, 29, has launched 6-8 Sports, a data analytics company with fellow water polo Olympian Tony Azevedo, aiming to bring attention and open new avenues for developing sports like water polo.

“As you develop in the sport, and I’ve been around it for so long, being a leader, being a veteran, my goals are so much more big-picture,” Steffens said in an interview with Reuters. “How do these women get more opportunities than I had?”

The Women’s Sports Foundation was founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King to be “an ally, an advocate and a catalyst” for participation in and recognition of women’s sports.

“The Women’s Sports Foundation is a guardian angel and champion of Title IX, and fully understands and accepts its decades long mission to ensure true equity for girls and women,” King said in a press release. “I am inspired by this remarkable group of honorees who are breaking records, eliminating barriers and blazing a path for a brighter future in and out of sports for girls and women.”

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