Young girls across the country gained a squad of new idols this week when the U.S. Women's National Team stormed its way to a World Cup title. But soccer wasn't the only sport graced with new heroes. This week, Misty Copeland became the first black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater and the only one in the company's 75-year history so far.
Nancy Koehn, a professor at the Harvard Business School, says that Copeland's extraordinary accomplishment will inspire a whole new, diverse generation of ballet dancers much the way the women's soccer team led by Mia Hamm inspired a new generation of players a decade ago:
"I thought of all those women on the team, some of whom are now passing the baton to younger women behind them, and I thought of Misty Copeland. The world is fundamentally changing. She's like those women who were playing soccer and working their way to the World Cup 10 years ago...Yes, she is going to be more than a one-off path breaker. She is going to be the person written about in 10 years when the American Ballet Theater has 12 principals who are black, or Latin American, or Middle Eastern, or Asian, and Caucasian. She's going to be the one who said, 'remember when they did this?'"
Koehn also pointed out that you don't have to be an aspiring ballerina to be amazed and inspired by Copeland's achievement:
"Everywhere Misty Copeland goes...young girls are standing there asking her to autograph her memoir...That's not a little girl saying, necessarily, 'I want to be a ballerina.' It's young girls saying: 'I want to do what you did, I want to find my power the way you found your power.' That is just terrific. That's inspiring, and it's important."
To hear more from Nancy Koehn, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.