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The game changers: Female referees in chess, boxing, and softball

When you imagine an umpire, a chess arbiter, or a boxing referee… do you picture women?

In this hour, you'll hear stories from three women in the sports world who are thriving in those particular positions of power.


  • Kristi Howard: 11-year veteran softball umpire in Mississippi. After getting punched in the face by an angry parent, she is advocating for laws to classify assaults against umpires and referees as felony aggravated assault.
  • Martha Underwood: National Tournament Director for the U.S. Chess Federation, and an advocate for the non-profit 9 Queens
  • Sparkle Lee: First female boxing ref to be licensed in New York and New Jersey, the first woman to ref in the NY Golden Gloves boxing tournament, the only woman to ref a match at Yankee Stadium, and she was the first referee ever to be inducted into the International Women Boxing Hall of Fame

Jessica Severin de Martinez, Khaleel Rahman, Meg Fitzgerald, Meg Dalton, Carol Chen, Stacey Addo, and Catie Talarski contributed to this show.

Audacious with Chion Wolf is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Tune In, Listen Notes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

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Khaleel Rahman is a producer for 'Audacious with Chion Wolf.'
Jessica Severin de Martinez is a producer for Audacious with Chion Wolf.
Catie Talarski is Senior Director of Storytelling and Radio Programming at Connecticut Public.
Meg Dalton is the deputy director of storytelling for Connecticut Public where she provides editorial support for the station’s talk shows and podcasts, including the limited series 'In Absentia'.
Meg Fitzgerald is the senior project manager for Radio and Storytelling Originals. She works with Connecticut Public's senior director and talk show producers to ensure our audio stories are represented digitally. She helps strategize digital audience growth with other departments for our radio programs and podcasts. Meg also helps to manage and co-produce special projects like StoryCorps CT, NautiWeek, Where Art Thou?, and other programs produced by our storytelling unit.
Chion Wolf is the host of Audacious with Chion Wolf on Connecticut Public, featuring conversations with people who have uncommon or misunderstood experiences, conditions, or professions.