Wallace rises to challenge of being woman in athletics

Senior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace and Junior setter Grace Balensiefer await an opponents attack Oct. 25, 2019.

Northern Star file photo

Senior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace and Junior setter Grace Balensiefer await an opponent’s attack Oct. 25, 2019.

By Waleed Alamleh, Sports Reporter

With Women’s History Month coming to a close it’s important to highlight the contributions  women have made to society and the world as a whole. NIU has  many great female athletes who can inspire us all.

It’s important to showcase their talents and personalities. Senior middle blocker Kennedy Wallace is one of those women worth watching. Wallace is a member of the Huskies’ volleyball team and became one of the leaders this season.

Wallace has been at NIU for four years and has taken advantage of being a focal point for the Huskies on the court through her play. She has an infectious enthusiasm for the sport.

“Being able to do what you love, especially with other people and being able to spread that positive energy in a positive environment can transfer to many different opportunities,” Wallace said.  

Wallace said she adopted the leadership mentality after seeing first-hand from her past club teammates, trying to bring that same style to the NIU team. 

“Some of my teammates have been big inspirations,” Wallace said. “Madison Lily, she’s such an incredible leader. Everyday I walked onto the court she would be fired up and we would do well under her.” 

Wallace said she wants to show her confidence and strength through her play. Wallace brings this type of confidence every time she sets foot on the court to give the team a leader to look at, comparing the mentality she tries to bring to the court to that of 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

“Just seeing how strong [Williams] is and just the fact that she had continued success and killing it was just next level,” Wallace said. 

Williams’ run a couple years ago, when she ended up breaking the record for most Grand Slam titles by a woman in the 2017 Australian Open, really pushed Wallace into pursuing a leader mentality. 

In sports, women never seem to get the same respect and notoriety their male counterparts do. Women’s sports still tend to be overlooked and sometimes blatantly disrespected.

In 2021, we’re still seeing the hypocrisy shown in men’s and women’s sports. Recently, it was the NCAA Women’s National Championship Tournament that became the epicenter of this debate

University of Oregon Sophomore forward Sedona Prince highlighted the difference in treatment of the men’s and women’s facilities at the national tournaments. Prince’s comments not only shook the basketball community, but college athletics as a whole. 

“It’s one of those things in the back of your mind,” Wallace said. “You always know that women’s sports are not going to be treated the same to men’s sports, but the fact that it got past so many people it was almost amazing to see.”

There needs to be a change in people’s mentalities of women’s sports to equal the treatment of men’s sports. There have been some strides at that change in the past through commercials, and campaigns like Nike’s which started in 2016. 

“The [Run like a girl] campaign was really trying to make a more positive image for women’s sports,” Wallace said. “So young girls can get more into [women’s sports].”

Wallace believes starting girls out young, giving them more outlets to see and experience sports will give young girls a more positive image. Hopefully in the process, society will start to establish a better outlook for women’s sports in general.

“I feel like sex isn’t to the advantage,” Wallace said. “When a woman does something, the reaction is wow! A woman can do this too. I feel like being able to be a woman you always have a challenge to rise to with gender inequalities that you have a chance to prove yourself as a woman.” 

Wallace gives young girls someone to look up to through her actions and demeanor on the court. She hopes to be looked at as a strong figure of inspiration to young girls in the world. 

Wallace has set a great example for women throughout her career at NIU. She is a fourth-year member of the volleyball team and two-time Academic All-MAC selection. Wallace illuminates the point that women are equal to men in all facets of life but especially in the sports world.

“I’d like to inspire young women by really just trying to go out, and play my heart out,” Wallace said. “I try to make a big effort with everything I do, and I hope that’s something young girls can see when they look at me and how I portray myself