I have shared here before that we are a sports family. A family of five which includes THREE very athletic GIRLS.
When it comes to sports my three are the perfect storm of natural ability, competitive spirit and intelligence.
They have each play multiple sports (basketball, softball, volleyball, football, beach volleyball and soccer) and would try anything if we could find the time of day to do it.
And we, their parents, try all that we can to remove obstacles that might otherwise hold them back.
I don’t really know where their drive for sport comes from.
I personally was willing to quit everything I started (girl scouts, dance, gymnastics, softball, etc.) and I never had the courage or commitment to push limits and norms.
This, my willingness to quit and my inclination toward being average, is what I see as my one personal regret. A regret that I will not allow my children to repeat.
I settled for just being average, I didn’t strive to be something great. I allowed my childhood dreams to fade out of fear for the hard work they would require.
So for my girls I encourage goals, and have told them they have the potential to be and do something great… So they should never settle for good enough or just getting by.
my oldest daughters story of being a girl on a football team is her real life lesson about setting goals, pushing limits and never settling for just being good enough.
There has been a lot of media attention around the 9 year old girl on the football team, and I understand that my daughter was not the first and she and the 9 year old on the news will not be the last… but I do believe that no matter how common their story becomes they are still likely just 1 girl on a team of 40-60 boys and no matter how often we hear their story know that they have worked hard, dealt with adversity (even if small) and they just want to be recognized for their athletic ability… not the length of their ponytail
this is my daughters football story.
My oldest Eliza, is in 8th grade. For the last two years she played on her middle school football team. Both years she was a kicker.
She has amazing strength with her left leg/foot, which also serves her well on the soccer field.
This season, her second year on the team, she saw a lot more playing time… As part of most every kick-off, an extra point or two & even made a touchdown saving tackle.
During football season (about 2.5 months) she also played travel soccer on a club soccer team.
So her daily schedule is this:
7:00am wake up
7:35am on the bus to school
3:15pm school day ends… change for football practice
5:00pm leave football… change for soccer practice
5:30pm soccer practice
7:00pm home to study and eat dinner
This was her schedule Monday – Wednesday, Thursday was football game day, Friday her evening off, weekends included at least one soccer game…
as a side note Eliza has also maintained a straight A average since 3rd grade in advanced classes
For families that don’t do what we do, I know that this seems insane. But I promise you that we as a family also have a lot of fun, act crazy, do things that make us who we are… and my children have social lives
Overall Eliza’s football experience was positive but not without struggles.
In her first year the coach played her on the field ONE time all season, in spite of the cheers from the crowd to put in the kicker.
At her first football event, a camp at our local high school, a dad (a man who knows her soccer skill) said…
“why are YOU here, are they having cheer-leading practice or something”.
On day two another dad (again who knows her athletic ability) said,
“oh you made it back”.
As the season went on, the coaches asked her why she was playing. She said her mom told her there are a lot of soccer players who kick; their reply
“well, what does your DAD think”
In general because of her athletic ability Eliza is used to coaches who want her around, who want the opportunity to be part of working with her. Football was different. My husband spent every afternoon he could coaching her, but was not an official member of the coaching staff so had no communication with the head coach about her abilities or strategies.
By this season, I think that the coaches came to realize she was not there for political motives or to rock any boats… They knew that she was an athlete who just wanted to play. But being the only girl on the team there is always a feeling of not fully being part of the team. She was asked to sit at the front of the bus (I think the coach wanted to protect her), most communication happened in the locker room, where she obviously was not. On equipment cleaning days she spent a lot of her time standing outside the boys locker room waiting for someone to bring her uniform from inside the locker room.
The team also went on a trip to a local college game… I did not let Eliza attend. the trip was sponsored by a local Men’s group. The “price” of attending included attending a motivational talk for Young Men. Not fully knowing who the men’s group was, or how they would feel about the girl attending their talk for young men, or feeling like her being in the room would affect the candor at the lecture. I did not allow Eliza to go… this was not a popular decision at home 🙂
I know it was her choice to play and she could have tried something easier (her school has a softball team that competes in the same season as football). And there are people in our community that think a girl has no business on the football team. But as you recall, I have taught my girls to set goals and not to settle for average.
I am proud of my daughter and all the girl football players out there. Football is a hard sport, the training is intense and then add in the additional challenges of being a girl.
It takes courage, dedication, drive and a whole lot of hardwork to be any kind of athlete