League of Their Own was founded by Paige Crawford due to difficulty in finding the desired recreational sports area.

The Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy gymnasium was filled with about 30 people who gathered to participate in a pick-up basketball friendly organized by the League of Their Own. One by one, each individual shared their names and zodiac signs. This exercise allowed everyone to feel safe and at home with each other. The League of Their Own is a community organization founded by Paige Crawford that brings together women and nonbinary people of all backgrounds through recreational sports and wellness. Its defining mission is to create a community of female athletes who can play recreational sports together without being too serious or too competitive.

Crawford’s interest in sports started in early childhood. Her parents supported her evolution of athletic goals, and she excelled in her sport, setting her goal to compete in college. Unfortunately, she suffered a fractured femur and brain damage in a car accident, which threatened to derail her athletic dreams. She had to learn how to walk again, but she refused to let her injury stop her. Crawford eventually joined the UIC track and field program and became one of the best hurdlers in the Horizon League.

After college, Crawford wanted to continue her athletic pursuits and participate in various running clubs around the city, but she lacked a true sense of community. She started the League of Their Own in late 2019 with the belief that she could create the change she wants to see. The organization has since acquired various sponsors, including Nike and Reebok, among others.

Crawford starts every session with an introduction and questions to encourage dialogue. The League of Their Own hosts coeducational gatherings, including Tuesday’s Pickup Games, with other recreational sports groups that share the organization’s mission. Crawford’s goal is to provide a fun and safe place for people to come together recreationally.

Attendees like Cai Thomas learned about the League of Their Own through social media, while Asha Stegall heard about it from her church. Stegall is only in Chicago for three months to complete rotation surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital, and the League of Their Own provided the sports haven she needed. She is dejected that opportunities for women to participate in recreational sports are declining as she ages. Crawford’s Tuesday night pick-up game provides a space for women to continue playing sports after college.

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