In an interview just posted by ESPN, earlier this month President Obama took a minute to speak about women, sports, and Title IX. His interview is spot on as he reiterates that “And, so, for those of us who grew up just as Title IX was taking off, to see the development of women’s role models in sports, and for girls to know they excelled in something, there would be a spot for them in college where they weren’t second-class, I think has helped to make our society more equal in general.” And we love his reflections on coaching his daughters! More generally, March Madness coinciding with Women’s History Month has led to a great variety of work place discussions and reflections. Below is one woman’s account of how sports taught her to believe in herself.
“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”
~Peace Pilgrim, spiritual leader~
Finding that peace with myself has been one of the greatest challenges of my life thus far. As a young female I have spent my whole life fighting against “she’s just a girl, she can’t do that” or “she’s too young to do that” mentality. And my whole life I have proven them wrong. I remember growing up playing baseball with my brother. I never saw anything wrong with wanting to play on his team. I distinctly remember the other coach screaming, “are you going to let a girl do that?” at his players as I hit yet another home run. The very next year I was no longer allowed to play on the “boys team” with my brother I was forced to join the girls softball team. The girls uniforms were purple and the name of the team was “The Babes.” I was not so keen on being associated with either one of those things. I was an athlete, not a model, and I was angry. Angry because someone told me that I was not allowed to be on the team strictly because I was a girl.
I carried that resentment around with me for a long time. Every time I did something that was outside of my stereotypical role as a young female I approached it as if I had something to prove. Then one day I stepped back and realized that I had allowed this pent up anger to overshadow the best part of playing sports—my love for the game. As I focused all of my energies on trying to prove the naysayers wrong, I was missing out on enjoying my life. I was letting them control my thoughts and feelings and, even though I wasn’t letting them control my actions, I was still giving them control that they didn’t deserve. So I stopped. I stopped trying to prove anything and started enjoying what I was doing. I chased what made me happy and when faced with “can’ts”, found ways around them with a smile. Knowing who I am and what I am capable of has empowered me with self-confidence. It gives me the freedom to be who I am no matter how many feathers I ruffle. If every woman found this empowerment within herself I think we would be a much stronger force together.
Erin Tracy is a student at Metropolitan State College of Denver and is completing a Service Learning project with the White House Project Rocky Mountain Office.