National Girls & Women in Sports Day

As we celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day, we look to examples of inspiration and continued hope. We explore women in sports who push boundaries, break gender stereotypes, and encourage others that they belong in every aspect of sports.

Special Olympics Oregon athlete Meagan Paxton from Clackamas County is an example of this and more.

Meagan began her sports journey as a young girl in gymnastics. She continued to crave the learning of new skills while challenging herself with new goals to accomplish.

Over her athletic career, her drive, hunger, and passion have lasted for decades and carried her to completing 148 events in 72 games of competition in gymnastics, soccer, swimming, cross-country skiing, softball, basketball, volleyball, and athletics (track & field).

She has represented Special Olympics Oregon at National and World Games and has competed in swimming for Rex Putnam High School and in track at the Cascade Collegiate Conference Championships at Mt. Hood Community College.

Additionally, she has participated in several Law Enforcement Torch Runs and Polar Plunges. She has also served her Special Olympics Local Program Management team behind the scenes in administration work, processing seasonal registrations.

Paxton states, “Sports has changed my life by giving me the confidence to try new events such as the IM (Individual medley) in swimming and the pentathlon in track and field.” In the early 1990s, when she was competing in the IM, there were very few female competitors in this advanced event and Meagan’s coach even had to bring in more advanced technical coaches to keep her challenged. In 2011, Meagan became Special Olympic Oregon’s first woman pentathlete to compete at State Games and although heated separately, she executed all 5 events of the pentathlon alongside the men.

In her own words, “what makes a great female athlete is not just talent. A great female athlete has to be a good sport no matter what. She is supportive to all of her teammates, and she works hard, no complaining and she listens to her coaches. I have used sports to impact others by being and trying my best while bettering myself instead of focusing on just getting the gold. “