In this 11th edition, in honour of February being Black History Month and National Girls…
In this fifth edition, we learn more about the top moments of Canadian women’s sports in 2023. Across sports like basketball, soccer, hockey, hammer throwing, football, tennis, swimming, and goalball, a big theme of the year was record-breaking and historic moments.
The stories making up the 2023 top moments show young girls in sport and physical activity that there is an inspiring representation of women athletes in multiple sports at different levels and that there is a possibility to thrive. Canadian women are leading the way and getting well-deserved recognition for their success at the same time.
In no particular order, here are our Top 10 Canadian Women’s Sports Moments of 2023.
Sold-out WNBA Canada game (May 2023)
In May 2023, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) hosted a pre-season exhibition game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario. It was Canada’s first WNBA pre-season game and very quickly sold out when tickets went on sale.
The game featured WNBA teams, the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx. Two Canadian WNBA players, Minnesota Lynx’s Bridget Carleton and Natalie Achonwa, were in attendance for the game. Carleton played in the game while Achonwa did not, as she is on maternity leave but still part of the 2023 roster. The final score was 82-74, with the Sky winning.
The final attendance number for the game was 19,923, the highest number for a WNBA pre-season game. Some other notable numbers from the WNBA Canada game included:
- The second-most-viewed WNBA game of all time in Canada
- 98% of the in-arena merchandise selling out
- A 506% increase in WNBA merchandise sales in Canada compared to that same week last year
Country follows as Canadian women’s national soccer team competes during FIFA Women’s World Cup (July 2023)
In July 2023, soccer fans worldwide followed as the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup began play in Australia and New Zealand. Known as the reigning world champions during the 2020 (actually in 2021) Tokyo Olympic Games, the anticipation was high for Canadian fans following the team’s run.
The Canadian women’s team had a 1-1-1 record across three games throughout the month. The team won their second game with a score of 2-1 against Ireland. In their third game, they fell short to Australia, losing 4-0 and thus, unfortunately, ending their World Cup run early.
The beginning of a single professional women’s hockey league, the PWHL (August 2023)
In August 2023, the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) debuted, announcing that it would be a single professional women’s hockey league operating in Canada and the United States, with its first season beginning in early 2024. Before the PWHL, the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) operated simultaneously.
Throughout the year, the league hits benchmarks such as announcing the six operating teams, coaches, general managers, the player’s draft, jersey designs, merchandise, and home/away arena information.
Most recently, the ticket demand has been overwhelmingly positive, with teams selling out their games within the first day or hour of being available for purchase.
Camryn Rogers becomes first Canadian hammer-throwing world champion (August 2023)
In August 2023, Canadian hammer-throwing athlete Camryn Rogers made history after becoming the second Canadian woman to win a gold medal during the World Athletics Championships.
Rogers delivered the highest score, 77.22 metres, during the women’s hammer-throwing competition. This is the second year Rogers has competed in the World Athletics Championships. During her 2022 debut year, she won a silver medal during the same competition. Rogers also made history during her 2022 debut, becoming the first Canadian woman to win a world championship medal for a field event.
Maya Turner becomes first woman to play and score in a U Sports men’s football game (September 2023)
In September 2023, Maya Turner, a kicker for U Sports’ University of Manitoba’s men’s football team, made history as the first woman to play in a U Sports regular season football game AND the first woman to score a point in one. Both feats took place during the same game.
Before football, Turner came from a soccer background. She had previously played for the Loyola University Chicago women’s soccer team. Turner quit playing during her second year with the team after feeling burnt out. She chose to pivot her talents, pursue joining that school’s club football team, and start attending kicking camps. Soon after, she reached out to the University of Manitoba’s football team, and after seeing her kick in person, head coach Brian Dobie offered her a spot on the team.
Gabriela Dabrowski becomes first Canadian player to win US Open women’s doubles title (September 2023)
In September 2023, Canadian tennis player Gabriela “Gaby” Dabrowski made history, becoming the first Canadian player to win a US Open women’s doubles title. Dabrowski shared the win with her doubles partner, New Zealand player Erin Routliffe.
The unique story behind their matching tennis outfits is that before the US Open tournament, Dabrowski suggested that Routliffe wear the same athletic clothing brand as her, as Routliffe was without a clothing sponsor. The matching outfits continued as a superstition after winning their first US Open doubles round.
Christine Sinclair announces retirement from professional soccer (October 2023)
In October 2023, professional soccer player and legend Christine Sinclair took to Instagram to announce her retirement from professional soccer. The women’s soccer legend’s announcement came after a career spanning over 20 years. One achievement amongst many that Sinclair is best known for is being the most successful player to compete for Canada. Sinclair holds a record for most goals scored with 190, having won 331 games over her career.
Canada Soccer hosted multiple games across the country in October and December to honour Sinclair. Sinclair’s final match occurred on December 5th, when the Canada Soccer women’s team played in front of a crowd of 48,112. This attendance number marked the largest crowd for a women’s international friendly match in Canada. To further honour Sinclair, B.C. Place in Vancouver, British Columbia (B.C.) was renamed “Christine Sinclair Place” for the day while being the host venue for the December 5th match. In B.C., December 12th was officially proclaimed as “Christine Sinclair Day.”
Tennis Canada wins their first Billie Jean King Cup (November 2023)
In November 2023, the Tennis Canada women’s team comprising players Heidi El Tabah, Eugenie “Genie” Bouchard, Gabriela “Gaby” Dabrowskil, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Rebecca Marino, and Marina Stakusic made history after becoming the Billie Jean King Cup world champions for the first time in Canadian history.
Before 2023, the furthest that a Tennis Canada women’s team reached in the Billie Jean King Cup was the semi-final round in 1988.
The team also received a record-high $2.4 million in prize money.
Canada women’s goalball team wins first-ever gold during Parapan Am Games (November 2023)
In November 2023, the Canadian women’s goalball team won a gold medal during the Parapan American (Am) Games. The team comprises athletes Brieann Baldock, Whitney Bogart, Amy Burk, Meghan Mahon, Emma Reinke, and Maryam Salehizadeh. The victory marked the team’s first Parapan Am gold title after previously winning three bronze titles. The goalball team had a winning score of 4-3 against the United States. The gold title also secured the Canadian women’s team spot for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.
The 2023 Canadian women’s goalball team was also honoured and named the “2023 People’s Choice Award for Most Trending Moment of the Year Presented by Respect Group” during the 46th Canadian Sport Awards.
Maggie Mac Neil and Summer McIntosh lead the way in Canadian women’s swimming
If there were Canadian swimmers to watch this year, they undoubtedly were the likes of Maggie Mac Neil and Summer McIntosh. Both swimmers won gold medals, set new world records, and received “best female athlete” distinction awards.
Maggie Mac Neil’s swimming highlights of the year included:
- Winning seven medals (five gold, one silver, one bronze) at the 2023 Pan American Games
- Breaking the record for most medals won by a Canadian athlete at the Pan Am Games
- Breaking the Games record for the 100-metre freestyle
- Being named “Best Female Athlete” at the 2023 PanAm Sports Awards
Summer McIntosh’s swimming highlights of the year included:
- Breaking the world record for 400-metre freestyle and individual medley at Canadian swimming trials
- Becoming the first to hold the two swimming world records simultaneously
- Winning four medals, two of which were gold medals for the 400-metre individual medley and the 200-metre butterfly during the 2023 World Aquatics Championships
- Being named The Canadian Press 2023 “Female Athlete of the Year”
CHEERS TO 2023! CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE INCREDIBLE GIRLS AND WOMEN ACROSS CANADA FOR THEIR SUCCESS IN BREAKING BARRIERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. WE CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT 2024 BRINGS!
Kaitlyn’s Sport Stories Recap are written by Kaitlyn Lehbert, a passionate and driven sport advocate for girls and women. Kaitlyn holds her Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Brock University. Learn more about Kaitlyn by clicking here!
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