2015 is nearly at a close, and the end of the year is as good a time as any to reflect on the past twelve months. This year's espnW IMPACT25 list represents an important mixture of influential women in sports as well as those who've dedicated themselves to the advancement of women in sports. And this year, espnW took the idea that their IMPACT25 list has the power to change the world even further by enlisting the help of prominent comic artists to turn their picks into superheroes. The top women in sports got the Marvel treatment, with the likes of Misty Copeland, Rhonda Rousey, and Misty Copeland turned into larger than life comic book characters.
In addition to athletes, the IMPACT25 includes an elite mix of influencers from across the sports world as well as in politics. Some bridge the gap between the two, as with ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza, who not only holds Olympic medals in softball but is the first woman to call a major MLB game. Her performance during the Yankees-Astros wildcard game earned her acclaim from fans.
Though there were detractors, Mendoza's response to the haters was equally inspiring and thought-provoking. For that reason and many more, the women who grace espnW's IMPACT25 list more than warrant their own superhero alter-egos.
Misty Copeland — The Principal
American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland has been wowing audiences with her powerful, graceful feats of athleticism through dancing for years, though it was an Under Armour commercial that she starred in that first sparked a dialogue about what constitutes an athlete. This year marked Copeland's promotion to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to hold the title in the company's esteemed history.
Serena Williams — Super Galactic Slam
Tennis superstar Serena Williams had one of her most dominating years ever despite a major upset from Roberta Vinci, who bested Williams in three sets in the US Open semi-finals. Though Vinci would go onto lose to fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta, the primary narrative seemed to be Williams losing a chance at a calendar Grand Slam. Williams' described the intense matchup between herself and Vinci — just her third such loss in 2015 — as "a win and a learning experience."
Ronda Rousey — Rowdy's Revenge
UFC fighter Ronda Rousey shares a similar story of still being on top but facing a dramatic upset. Rousey's first career loss came from formally trained boxer Holly Holm, who knocked her out in the second round. Still, Rousey plans on coming back stronger than ever and is determined to beat Holm. Her high standards in herself as well as her determination is what has not only made her a force to be reckoned with but an inspiration to all fighters out there.
Jen Welter —The Ball Buster
Jen Welter became the first female NFL coaching intern in league history this year. Welter put her vast athletic experience as a former rugby player and football player to use, along with her Ph.D. in psychology, with the Arizona Cardinals, coaching inside linebackers from training camp to the middle of the preseason. Though she's yet to formally take a position with the NFL, Arizona Coach Bruce Arians praised her skills and said he'd love to see her return the Cardinals coaching staff.
Carli Lloyd —The Boss
Women's World Cup Golden Ball recipient Carli Lloyd is a force to be reckoned with. Her mind and body transformation earned her the highest honors during this year's Women's World Cup as well as the most goals in the final game against Japan. Lloyd's three goals are a superhuman feat all their own as were her numerous game-winning goals at the 2012 London Olympics. She could easily make espnW's 2016 list given the upcoming Olympics and her amazing track record in big ticket games.
Chloe Kim —Teenage Pipe Dream
At just 15 years old, Chloe Kim is leading the charge in snowboarding as the youngest athlete to win a Winter X Games gold medal. She was too young to qualify for the 2014 Olympics but that age restriction has only further fueled her motivation to expand her repertoire and better prepare for the 2018 Olympics, when she will be eligible to compete. Her stellar 2015 is only a sign of further greatness to come.
Kirsten Gillibrand And Claire McCaskill — Senators of Steel
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill are actively working to make college campuses safer for all who attend. The bill that they've crafted with 34 co-sponsors and growing aims to standardize the process of reporting sexual assault as well as polling students and making that data available to the public as a means of holding academic institutions further accountable.
Loretta Lynch — FIFA Slayer
Loretta Lynch has led the charge against FIFA, taking office as Attorney General and then promptly indicting 14 prominent soccer officials over their alleged corruption. Lynch's fast growing case against the organization has seen the arrest of 16 more as Lynch continues to mount her case against them. For the prominent lawyer to take on the highest soccer organization in the land is truly a feat of superhuman strength.