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Tulsa Sports Commission launches new program to advance womens athletics in Tulsa

The Tulsa Sports Commission has launched an initiative to empower women and girls through sports and fitness in the Tulsa area, the organization announced Tuesday. Athletic Women Excel, or AWE Tulsa, will focus on retaining, recruiting, developing and enhancing local women’s athletic events, programs and organizations for their economic and personal health benefits.

“Physical fitness is an answer to so many of the potential physical, mental and social obstacles facing women today,” said Paula Marshall, AWE Tulsa’s founding chair and CEO of Bama Companies. “It’s critical that we come together as a region to protect and advance the avenues through which women and girls can express themselves and achieve new heights through physical activity.”

Inspired by the Tulsa Sports Commission’s MOVE Forum, a regular gathering of local stakeholders in women fitness, AWE Tulsa has assembled a growing number of such stakeholders — 35 as of Tuesday – to report to the Tulsa Sports Commission board of directors as a volunteer committee divided into four subcommittees:

“Retain” — This subcommittee will lead efforts to retain athletic events and groups that contribute to the economic prosperity of Tulsa and empower women, such as Tulsa Shock, the Tulsa Run and Tulsa Tough. Co-chairs Marlene Livaudais, Nancy Hicks and Kim Pettit.

“Recruit” — This subcommittee will provide insight and connections to potential external markets and events that would be new to the Tulsa area, such as college sports tournaments. Chair Lew Erickson.

“Develop” — This subcommittee will create new events, partnerships and activities to generate a core group of women’s athletic events that contribute to AWE Tulsa’s mission. Co-chairs Timberly Harding and Lori Dreiling.

“Enhance” — This subcommittee will focus on marketing and strategic partnerships to use sports-related assets to enhance brand awareness of Tulsa. Co-chairs Lynn Jones and Alicia Evicks.

“With the recent success of the Tulsa Shock and the strength of our female collegiate programs, women’s athletics in Tulsa have truly begun to come into their own,” said Ray Hoyt, senior vice president of VisitTulsa, the Tulsa Sports Commission’s parent organization. “Women’s sporting events bring money into our economy, and their increasing visibility is a win for sports fans and female athletes throughout our area.”

Marshall, who golfs and plays tennis in her spare time, said it’s important that girls know athletics aren’t only a male endeavor. AWE Tulsa will work to inspire them toward lifelong athleticism by promoting active lifestyles and showcasing high-level competition, she added.

“It’s a founding principle of AWE Tulsa that women can and should be athletes,” she said. “The strength created by the challenge, sportsmanship and reward of reaching for the athletic endeavor sets the stage for success throughout a woman’s life. Athletic women really do excel.”

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, female participation in high school sports has increased by more than 900 percent since 1972. The foundation reports that engaging in athletics has been found to improve educational attainment for girls and reduce the risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, depression and suicide in women.

To get involved in AWE Tulsa, email Katie Nicholas, operations and development manager for the Tulsa Sports Commission, at

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