Cleveland Women’s Sports (CWS) began in June 2018 as a round-table discussion with 5 local women's sports teams about the challenges they were facing and how they might learn from each other. The initial teams included Burning River Roller Derby, Cleveland Comets Softball, Cleveland Crush Basketball, Cleveland Fusion Football and Cleveland Iron Maidens Rugby. This conversation expanded to monthly meetings to identify ways that teams could work together to minimize financial, logistical and organizational difficulties for their athletes and organizations as a whole. The first collaborative fundraiser collected over $1000 for the teams through a 2019 calendar sale.
Monthly meetings continued through this time and Notorious CLE Ultimate Frisbee was added into the fold. In the spring of 2019, teams participated in an All-Access Ticket to encourage fans to attend multiple teams’ events throughout their seasons.
That summer, the teams hosted joint booths at the Pride in the CLE and Akron Pride festivals and walked in their parades to spread awareness and increase player recruitment.
In October 2019, CWS leaders, Elise Bigley and Barbara Anthony, spoke at the Alliance for Social Workers in Sports (ASWIS) annual conference in Denver, Colorado, highlighting the collaborations happening within Cleveland Women's Sports.
Cleveland Women’s Sports partnered with the Cleveland Monsters hockey team for a women’s sports night in March of 2020.
The co-ed Cleveland Aquatic Team and Cyrano's Place Fencing Club joined the alliance in the summer of 2020.
In fall 2020, Cleveland Women's Sports changed its name to the Northeast Ohio Women's Sports Alliance (NOWSA).
As of February 2021, NOWSA is a registered 501(c)(3), allowing the ability to receive tax-deductible donations.
Eight additional teams officially partnered with NOWSA through the spring and summer of 2021, marking 15 total partner teams and growing.