Previous “Ass Kickers” posts

Jolien Boumkwo Kicks Ass

She went the extra ~1/16th of a mile.

When multiple teammates were taken down by injuries, Belgian shot putter Jolien Boumkwo stepped up (and over), running the 100m hurdles to keep her team alive in this past weekend’s European Championships.

6 world-class hurdlers, and one additional competitor, much farther back

Boumko competing in the event provided her team with one point instead of zero. It also allowed us to see the fruition of a beautiful dream:

A tweet which reads “Every Olympic event should include one average person
competing, for reference.”

On the 100-meter hurdles, 32.81 seconds is the new benchmark for the rest of us.


  1. I’ve archived the full video. You may notice they sped it up, because 32+ seconds is kind of a long time. That’s a little bit comical, but you should also be sure to notice Boumkwo’s competitors shaking her hand after the race is finished. ↩︎

Iga Swiatek Kicks Ass 

Carb up before a match, not during

Tennis player Iga Swiatek has been leading the sport for quite some time, holding the top women’s ranking for well over a year straight. During her matches, she has frequently handed out bagels and breadsticks on the court. These food items aren’t literal, but can instead be found in the scores of her outmatched opponents. A bagel is when a player is shut out in a set 6-0, while a breadstick is when they only manage to grab a single game, losing 6-1.

As a result, fans have recently taken to talking about Iga’s Bakery. Charmingly, the star herself is unwilling to engage with it:

“I don’t want to talk about the bakery. Twitter can talk about it, but I’m just going to be focused on tennis.”

It’s admirable that Swiatek doesn’t want to engage with this, but the rest of us can certainly marvel at her dominance.

Stéphanie Frappart Kicks Ass 

And their knees were on display for the world to see.

Last Thursday, Stéphanie Frappart made history by serving as the first female head referee in a men’s World Cup match. She actually led a trio of women, who were served as the first all-female on-field crew in the men’s World Cup. The best part? It was really no big deal.

In taking charge for Germany’s showdown with Costa Rica in the final round of games in Group E, Frappart became the first woman to officiate in a men’s World Cup and it felt decidedly normal.

Frappart is used to making history: she was the first woman to referee in men’s Ligue 2, then Ligue 1 in France and the first woman to referee in the Champions League and Uefa Super Cup.

In recent years, more and more women have served as coaches and officials in men’s sports, and it’s an excellent thing to see.

Courtney Dauwalter Kicks Ass 

You, too, are stronger than you think.

I run a lot. Last month, I reached my fourth consecutive annual kilomile. And yet, for all that running, the very longest distances I compete in are marathons. 26.2 miles is more than enough for me.

There’s another breed of runners who compete in ultramarathons, races which are 50, 100, 200 miles (and even longer). Courtney Dauwalter is probably the world’s greatest ultrarunner, female or male. How does she do it? Why does she do it?

Outsiders can’t always understand why she would put herself through something like this—or why anyone would. If only they could stand with her on these mountains after a run, out of breath and full of fire, feeling the profound satisfaction that comes from putting one’s body on the line to see how strong one’s mind can be.

That satisfaction is certainly a motivator. But another factor is the persistent exploration of the pain cave, as Mirin Fader details in a tremendous profile for The Ringer. The distances Dauwalter and her fellow adventurers run can seem unfathomable, but the mental battles they wage can be relevant to all of us.

Holly and Keely Petitt Kick Ass 

“Let’s hope Holly doesn't need to ground Keely” is an awful joke I wish I hadn’t written.

Last month, on Southwest flight #3658, Captain Holly Petitt and First Officer Keely Petitt made history. With Holly at the helm, and Keely acting as her co-pilot, they became the airline’s first-ever mother-daughter pilot duo.

Holly and Keely in the cockpit

Holly began her career as a flight attendant, before deciding she’d rather be a pilot. I have to imagine that is not a transition that’s made very often. Keely, meanwhile, knew she wanted to fly in her mother’s…wing…steps (?) from a very early age. Now, they’re plying the skies together.

Ketanji Brown Jackson Kicks Ass

I'm hoping for decades of quality jurisprudence from the glorious KBJ.

Right now, the US Supreme Court is a mess. Though public opinion in America has steadily shifted left in recent decades, the Supreme Court tilted rightward under Donald Trump. Following recent rulings, the court has hit record lows in public approval polls, and respect for it has dropped substantially. We’re suffering under an outdated system of lifetime appointments, coupled with the blatant hypocrisy of Republicans who refused to allow President Obama to seat a new justice after the passing of Antonin Scalia nine months before the 2016 election, then rammed through a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg just weeks before the 2020 election. The system is badly in need of reform, but it doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon.1

Nevertheless, there are bright spots, and yesterday marked one of those. That’s because the Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black women to ever sit on the US Supreme Court. I know we’re not really saying “You go, girl!” anymore, but we should be, because Ketanji Brown Jackson? You go, girl!

[Photo credit: Sarahbeth Maney]

Also, if you missed the story behind this remarkable photo feature Brown Jackson, her husband, and her proudly beaming daughter Leila, it’s worth a read.


  1. Replacing lifetime appointments with 18 year terms for each justice would be a very sound method of reducing the political nature of the court. ↩︎

Julie Anne Genter Kicks Ass 

I'm a huge advocate for cycling, walking, and public transit. Still, I think in that situation, I'm calling a cab.

Back in 2018, New Zealand MP Julie Anne Genter cycled to the hospital 42 weeks into her pregnancy, to have labo(u)r induced. That was impressive, but last weekend, she topped it. This time around, while actively in labo(u)r, she made the trip via bicycle again. From her Instagram post:

My contractions weren’t that bad when we left at 2am to go to the hospital – though they were 2-3 min apart and picking up in intensity by the time we arrived 10 minutes later.

Now that is some real bad-assery.

The Boston Renegades Kick Ass

For all sorts of reasons, the WFA is a better league than the NFL.

Back in 2015, I wrote about the disappointing end of the Boston Militia, Boston’s tremendously talented women’s tackle football team. A few months later, I was delighted to report on the rise of a new team, the Boston Renegades. Since that rebirth, the team has performed at an exceptionally high level, and the world is slowly starting to take notice.

Last week, the New England Patriots and owner Robert Kraft recognized the Renegades ahead of their trip to the national championship. That game took place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the Renegades were flown there on the Patriots team plane. On Saturday, they did their jobs and claimed their third straight championship since 2018 (regrettably, the 2020 season went unplayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic). This team is incredibly good, and they deserve much, much more attention than they currently receive.

There will be at least a bit more attention paid in the near future, because superstar Renegades quarterback Allison Cahill’s game-worn jersey will be displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

[Photo credit: @BostonRenegades]

That’s a good start, but perhaps we’ll one day see some actual WFA players inducted into the Hall.

Want to learn more about the Boston Renegades and women’s tackle football? Give “Born to Play” a watch on Netflix.

Dr. Khama Ennis Kicks Ass 

She also probes ass, when medically necessary.

Dr. Khama Ennis is the chief of emergency medicine at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Massachusetts. Despite that impressive accomplishment, she’s had to put up with far too much nonsense over the years.

Once, as I walked past a patient’s room, I heard the family berating their nurse, demanding to be seen by a doctor because they had been waiting for hours. I popped in to reassure them that I was, in fact, their doctor. I’d already been in the room several times. I had done a rectal exam. All I could think was, “Why would you let me do that if you didn’t think I was your doctor?”

I wonder how much of what Dr. Ennis has experienced can be attributed to racism, how much to sexism, and how much to a combination of the two. But mostly, I marvel at how she powers through.

Rosemary Mariner Kicked Ass 

America's first female military jet pilot passed away recently, but she lived a hell of a life.

In the 1970s, Rosemary Mariner finished college at just 19, in order to become part of the first group of women to earn their wings as United States Naval Aviators. Not long after, she became the very first female jet pilot in the American military. She was far from the last. At her funeral last week, a missing woman salute was performed by an entirely female flyover crew.