Aces hold second annual IX Awards

The second annual IX Awards shined a light on women who continue to make an impact in women's sports.

LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas Aces hosted the second annual IX awards at Allegiant Stadium on Tuesday. The event honored many women who have paved the way for the younger generation.

Title IX is significant to many women in sports, including WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, who said it has allowed her to have a platform while living out her dream.

“It allows me to be a role model and do what I love,” Wilson said. “But also be that voice for the voiceless and let them see they can achieve their goals if they just stick with it.”

It’s meaningful to Aces forward Alysha Clark because it taught her that there are no limits to what she can achieve.

“It showed the world and people that we can do the same things and have the same opportunities given to us that the male counterparts had and be successful in that,” Clark said. “That’s why it’s special because it allows us to have a place to continue to inspire the young boys and girls growing up.”

It also has extra meaning to WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Gray because of the influence it has on others.

“The impact you can have for other people that look up to you and just enjoying the process and being apart of something that people have laid the foundation for what we are able to do each and every day,” Gray said.

The event began with a powerful quote from actor Chris Spencer, who said, “the mission is to put equality in the forefront.” Spencer was followed by a special cover performance of “Rise Up” by Judith Hill.

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby presented the first award of the night which was the Next Gen Award. This award is given to a recipient who demonstrates exceptional character and acts as a role model for the future generation of leaders. Annick Haczkiewicz, a three-time captain of the BYU golf team, received the honor. During her tenure at BYU, she worked in the athletics department as well as the social media and sports information departments, where she assisted with Title IX campaigns, among other things.

Gray then presented Jessica Mendoza with the Game Changer Award, which honors a woman who has changed women’s sports, broke down barriers, and inspired future generations. She transitioned to broadcasting after a successful playing career that included All-America accolades as a member of the Stanford softball team.

Elaine Wynn received The Impact Award and was presented with a special video message from former Duke men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Wynn is a corporate leader, philanthropist, and advocate for the welfare of children via education.

Wilson and Clark presented The Icon Award to Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a long jump and heptathlon specialist, who Sports Illustrated called “the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century.” She is a member of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Halls of Fame, the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame, and the International Sports Hall of Fame.

“The impossible is probable,” Joyner-Kersee said. “Take a vested interest in both girls and boys and you will see a return.”

The last award of the night was The Legacy award which was presented by Raiders and Aces owner Mark Davis. This award was given to Wyomia Tyus, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and the first person to win back-to-back Olympic golds in the 100 meters.

After the event, Wilson hoped to see more changes coming on the horizon for women’s sports.

“Just a respect factor; we sweat the same, we put in the same amount of work to get the results that we have,” Wilson said. “My gold medal is the same way as my counterparts and I think just the respect aspect of second hand nature of who we are and the work we put in should be respected.”

Clark hopes to see changes come in the form of investing more in women’s sports.

“Right now we are kind of just in that sweet spot of where people are starting to see or at least recognize the investment and the value for us as professional athletes,” Clark said. “For so long the same storyline of oh it’s not investable and there’s no return and we have been smashing that” So I think now moving forward its like alright we want to start seeing more companies, more people and more businesses stand behind that and not just do it when it’s the anniversary of this or when it’s women’s history month or whatever like show that on a consistent basis 12 months out of the year.”

Gray would like to see Title IX change by providing equal pay and equal rights.

“Pay wage gaps it’s a thing and it’s not something that’s a fasad and what we make up it’s real life and what we have to endure each and everyday” Gray said. Whether it’s on the court or in the business room in those negations so just equal pay, equal rights all of them.”