It is a beautiful California classic day outside and I am gearing up to go to my daughters football game. I cannot wait to be out there cheering my girl on. This is my daughters 2nd year playing tackle football. Thats right tackle.... no she is not on some girls league. She plays with the boys. She plays in a local youth league ages 6 through 12. I will say that I think this is the best thing I could have ever allowed her to do. Not just because she ROCKS on the field, but because it has taught her important life lessons that she otherwise might not have learned. When she asked me I will admit I was concerned, but when she played it was just a thing of beauty to watch. Last year her peewee team went undefeated and won every game that they played. She learned the importance of teamwork, and how to be proud of her accomplishments. This year she is in the 5th and 6th grade division called the pups, and they have not won all of their games. This has taught her that you are not always going to be a winner and that loosing gracefully is something great players do. She has walked around on the sidelines mopey and irritated when something has not gone her way and man that really annoys me as a parent. I say that because I know my daughter has leadership qualities that you do not find in a lot of other kids at this early an age. When she mopes she sends out vibes to her teammates the "lets give up" vibe. That is not a quality that will get you anywhere in life. We have discussed this and she realizes what it does to her self esteem and her teams.
Self esteem, such a powerful phrase and not so easily attainable for young people especially young girls and young women. It is as if your whole idea of success hinges on that phrase in these teen and tween years. I do know firsthand that being involved in sports has created a child more different than her two older siblings. She is more vocal, more confident and relates better to other kids. Not that I have shrinking violet, antisocial, doormat, daughters in my other two. Other things have created strengths in them that sports did not. I just feel sports has been beneficial to the social development of my youngest daughter. She also plays softball and baseball and is now setting her sites on basketball.
The possibilities are endless for my daughter and yours. It was not long ago that playing football was a dream in some little girls head. In the 70's while Title IX was being passed without reference to sports but rather education, Billie Jean King was breaking a barrier for women everywhere with her infamous "Battle of the Sexes" match. It was also at this time in my backyard that I was doing cartwheels like Nadia Comaneci and learning to throw a football like Roger Staubach. When I asked if I could play football with the boys I was told a resounding "NO!" My father broke my spirit and created a monster by telling me "no". It was from that day on that I vowed that if I ever had a daughter I would never say "no" to any traditional male sport or occupation, if they asked me if they could do it. Heck girls can pee standing up as far as I am concerned! So as fate would have it and a lot of prayers that I would not have a boy, I would not have a boy, no I would not have a boy to leave some machismo legacy for my father, I had 3 beautiful daughters! What was I thinking? When my oldest was little we put her in t-ball which she quickly lost interest in even before the first game. My middle daughter wrestled in fourth grade and though she did not win a lot of her matches, she won a very important meet match at the local highschool in front of hundreds of screaming kids all cheering her on. Her braids trailing down her back, she amazingly TKOed and pinned her opponent. I was so extremely proud of her at that moment and she was proud of herself. After a neck injury and as the boys got stronger she lost interest. She still has that competitive heart. I would love to see her do MMA.
I respect all the trailblazers out there making it easier for the next generation of girls to reach for that brass ring and shatter more glass ceilings in the world of sports. Did you know that as early as 1722 a woman stepped in the boxing ring for the first time? Her name was Elizabeth Wilkins. Muhammad Ali's daughter Laila followed in her fathers footsteps. Two local MMA fighters introduced to martial arts by their father are sisters Zoila and Stephanie Frausto. Zoila has a record of 9 wins and 1 loss. I think that is awesome! The first pro female pitcher has already happened in 1898, Lizzie Arlington pitched for the Philadelphia Reserves, and 12 year old Chelsea Baker with a 70 MPH fastball pitched her second perfect game in April of this year. Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias blazed the trails for Wilma Rudolph who blazed the trail for Marion Jones today. A local highschool standout Alicia Brown has a promising future in track. Janet Guthrie participated in the Indy 500 long before Danica Patrick. Holley Mangold, New York Jets lineman Nick Mangold's little sister played varsity football and earned her letter, she now pursues weightlifting and has lifted over 500 pounds. Katie Nhida a kicker for Division 1A team New Mexico scored two points in 2003. Learn more about women in sports, and Title IX at http://www.girls-explore.com/ and http://womenssportsfoundation.org/. In the eighties and nineties provisions were made in Title IX that said female sports programs should be equal and proportionate to males sports programs in schools. Recently it has added community league sports to be inclusive in this ruling as well like the one my daughter plays in.
We lost our game today and though it was a crushing loss my daughter who plays both offense and defense played her heart out as did her teammates. I cannot wait for next year her last year in community league football, after that it will be junior high and then high school. Will she still have the passion for the game that she has now? I think she will and thats what inspires me to learn as much as I can about women in sports to show her that she too is a pioneer in a traditionally male sport. So CHEERS to all the girls out there that will be opening doors for the next generation of female athletes. You make me proud, you make me inspired, you lead the way! I wanna be like you when I grow up!