Last year, on the 40th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, ESPN Films and espnW launched the phenomenal Emmy-nominated documentary series Nine for IX, which celebrated nine stories of women in sports told by female filmmakers. Playing off of that enormous success, this week ESPN and espnW debuted Nine for IX shorts, an extension of the original series.
Among those athletes profiled in the six new shorts are WNBA basketball star Brittney Griner; UFC’s first female Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey; golf champion Jan Stephenson; and the first all-women America’s Cup team.
The other two shorts are dedicated to women who played important roles behind the scenes: Debbie McElwain, the mother of autistic basketball player Jason McElwain, and Tracey Stewart, the wife and driving force behind late championship golfer Payne Stewart.
On average, each film is about 15 minutes long. You can catch the shorts on espnW.com, but they will also run this Saturday at 2:30pm and 3:30pm (EST) on ESPN.
Through memories, family videos, personal photos, Tracey Stewart (Payne’s widow) gives audiences a glimpse at the story of a once in a lifetime love, a shattering loss, and the legacy of a man who, in the final year of his life, achieved his greatest professional fulfillment and personal peace. Payne Stewart’s voice appears through archival materials, but ultimately Tracey traces their story from that first fateful meeting, to Payne’s transformative years, to his tragic death, and ultimately his legacy as a father, champion and husband. It’s a personal, poignant, rare look at Payne Stewart and the powerful connection behind his success as a golfer and a man. – Directed by Hannah Storm
On February 23, 2013, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey made history by becoming UFC’s first female Bantamweight Champion. After beating her opponent Liz Carmouche with her signature armbar, Rousey also became the #1 female MMA fighter in the world. The film takes an inside look at this record breaking fight and how Rousey is paving the way for women in the sport. We learn about Rousey’s rough childhood and how it shaped her fighting career. The film also explores the extreme physical challenges and emotional strength behind becoming the world’s greatest female fighter. – Directed by the Mundo Sisters
Jason McElwain’s 20 points in four minutes inspired sports fans around the world and fine-tuned the conversation surrounding people diagnosed with autism. But it was the perseverance and undeterred support of Jason’s mother, Debbie, who coached her son and provided him with the strength and confidence to step onto his high school basketball court and hit six 3-pointers, and one 2-pointer in four minutes of play. Featuring heartfelt interviews from Jason, his mother Debbie and his brother Josh, “Think Normal” is a look at what a mother sacrificed for her sons. – Directed by Nikki Reed
This is a rite of passage story following Brittney’s inaugural season with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. Director Melissa Johnson collaborated with espnW’s Kate Fagan to chronicle not only Brittney’s transformation from amateur to professional, but also from a celebrated kid with unlimited potential to a self-reliant adult with a deep inner capacity to make her championship dreams a reality. Blazing with authenticity, humor and irreverence, this story is about the courage it takes to become everything that’s you — in the biggest, boldest way imaginable. – Directed by Melissa Johnson
In 1995, Bill Koch put together the first ever all-women America’s Cup team. Made up of top female athletes from across the country, the team made history onboard America3 and inspired fans across the country. But the team morale faltered after a series of changes were made including a new boat, the replacement of a female team member with a male, and a last-minute rule change that allowed three teams to make it to the finals instead of two. In the last race of the Defender Series, the Mighty Mary lost their lead and rival Stars & Stripes beat them to the finish line. – Directed by Tina Carbone
Play A Round With Me
(Premiere’s Friday, August 1) In the 1980’s, Jan Stephenson became professional golf’s first tabloid star, shaking up the game with her sex appeal and charismatic self-promotion. Amid intense media attention, Stephenson’s colorful and controversial life off the course often overshadowed her fierce determination to win championships. This film follows a tense year where, against all odds, Jan Stephenson tried to prove she was more just a pretty face. – Directed by Jessica Wolfson