Author Archives

Britni de la Cretaz

Flagrant Foul: Benching Teen Moms Before Title IX

Illustration by J.O. Applegate

Britni de la Cretaz | Longreads | August 2019 | 27 minutes (6,922 words)

Before the pregnancy, before the ineligibility, and before the lawsuit, Jane Christoffer was one of the best basketball players in the basketball-loving state of Iowa. As a freshman in 1968–69 at Ruthven Consolidated High School, a school of just 106 students located in northwest Iowa, the 5-foot-11 Christoffer averaged 35 points per game, leading Ruthven to the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade. She upped her scoring average the next season to 47 points, and was named third team all-state, which prompted Richard Barber, her coach at Ruthven, to say, “Jane’s as good a player as we’ve had in the 20 years I’ve been here.” Read more…

An Audience of Athletes: The Rise and Fall of Feminist Sports

womenSports, Bettmann / Getty

Britni de la Cretaz | Longreads | May 2019 | 26 minutes (6,609 words)

The idea for womenSports magazine was born in a car suspended over the San Francisco Bay by beams of steel. Several weeks before she captivated the nation by beating Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match in the fall of 1973, Billie Jean King sat in the passenger seat of a car and stewed. At the wheel was her then-husband, Larry, driving the couple from Emeryville near Oakland toward San Francisco on the Bay Bridge, and as Billie Jean flipped through an issue of Sports Illustrated, she complained, which is what she always did whenever she picked up an issue of SI. Read more…

They Call Her La Primera, Jai Alai’s Last Hope

Hulton Archive / Getty

Britni de la Cretaz | Longreads | April 2019 | 19 minutes (4,863 words)

On a jai alai court in North Miami, Florida, 54-year-old Becky Smith was trying out for Calder Casino’s recently announced team. It was February 2019 — winter, but Florida winter, with temperatures in the 80s — and more than 100 men had shown up to compete with Becky for approximately 30 spots.

In the large warehouse along an industrial strip of road, Becky stood alone on the court, which she thought was odd. “How can you assess my playing skills if you don’t have me playing with other people?” Becky thought. “I think that they really didn’t think I could play.” Read more…

Of Safe Words and the Sacred

Getty / Collage by Katie Kosma

Britni de la Cretaz | Longreads | March 2019 | 12 minutes (2,913 words)

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of God as we understood him.

In the throes of passion, it’s not unusual to cry out for the Heavenly Father. Bodily pleasure, the agonizing ecstasy of orgasm, can feel like prayer — a communication with the divine, a gift from somewhere beyond this realm. Sex is one of the most primally human experiences, but when it’s good, it can feel otherworldly.

In AA’s Big Book, they say that having a spiritual experience in recovery will rocket you into “the fourth dimension of existence.”

I thought I’d already been to that dimension: consensually tied up and flogged in a hotel room, the red splotches spreading across my ass and thighs — precursors to the bruising that would splatter my backside like a Jackson Pollock painting in the days to come. I thought I’d found heaven in the place between the agony of the whip and the ecstacy of His fingers finding my wetness. He called me demeaning names and degraded me in all the right ways; I was happy to do anything He asked.

I did not believe in God, but I believed in surrendering my body and my will to this man. Surely, He would save me.
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Almost Undefeated: The Forgotten Football Upset of 1976

Meg Oliphant / Getty

Britni de la Cretaz | Longreads | February 2019 | 19 minutes (4,800 words)

Mitchi Collette has been playing football, in one form or another, for 46 years. The 5’7” spitfire with grey, spiky hair is the co-owner and coach of the Toledo Reign, a team in the Women’s Football Alliance.

Collette is an effective coach in part because she knows firsthand what it’s like to be on the gridiron — she understands how to execute a play. The 65-year-old former outside linebacker knows what it feels like to put on the pads and the helmet and slam your full body weight into another person. She knows what it sounds like when bodies connect and the smell of grass and dirt when you’re thrown to the ground.

Read more…