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Ex-college athlete speaks out about inequalities in sports

By JACK WILLIAMSJune 17, 2019

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Courtney Place has been bothered by the inequalities in women’s sports for a long time. The lack of exposure and respect compared to men’s sports stood out whenever she took the volleyball court.

Looking to take a stand, the 22-year-old Augustana alumna created the SEE US movement, which aims to spread awareness of women underrepresented, sexualized and judged based on appearance rather than performance in sports.

The SEE US movement received national attention late last month when the project was named one of 20 winners of the Victoria’s Secret PINK GRL PWR Project, which awarded $10,000 to jump start the movement, the Argus Leader reported.

“It’s been incredible to see this project grow,” Place said. “When I was a young girl, I thought I was going through this alone. Now, a lot of young girls have messaged me and thanked me for bringing this conversation up. Knowing that this is helping a lot of young girls feel confident and supported means a lot to me.”

Place hopes to use the money to turn her movement into a nonprofit that offers affordable camps for young girls and gives women a place to talk about inequalities in sports.

Place came up with the idea for SEE US during her time as a college athlete. She was exploring the possibility of playing professional volleyball in Europe when she realized her parents likely would not be able to watch her games on TV because women’s sports are less often televised.

That’s when she decided to bring awareness to the need for equality in sports, and she brought that idea back to Augustana for further development.

More and more members of Augustana’s athletic teams began to take notice of SEE US. Place’s volleyball teammates along with members of the softball, basketball and tennis teams began to show their support for the project.

It wasn’t until a friend emailed Place a link to enter the Victoria’s Secret PINK GRL PWR Project that she realized she could take SEE US to the next level. With the help of fellow athletes on campus and a few of her public relations friends, Place’s movement began to take off.

“I’ve really been a part of pushing this movement on social media and pushing the PR aspect of it,” Grace Fjellanger, Place’s friend and fellow SEE US member, said. “We were able to get the movement more media attention and eventually help Courtney win the $10,000 from Victoria’s Secret. We’ve really helped her out with things to say about the movement, but overall she has just killed it.”

There have been bumps in the road for Place and her project. She said that she received a lot of harassment online and in-person, including hearing degrading remarks from peers. It came to the point where she questioned if she was doing the right thing.

However, with the support of her family, friends and teammates, Place has been able to push the movement to a level she never imagined. SEE US has received recognition from Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota women’s basketball head coach Lindsay Whalen and three-time women’s beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings.

Place said it’s been crazy to see how far SEE US has come. From staying up until 2 a.m. at Augustana to now meeting with collaborators in Los Angeles, she is in awe seeing this movement grow.

“I don’t think that I really knew that I would win a contest with this movement,” Place said. “I really wanted something to happen with this, and it did.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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