Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day! Didn’t know that was celebrated today? Well, don’t feel bad because even though I consider myself pretty sporty, I had no idea either.
It got me thinking about what women I look up to in the sports world. While there are definitely some famous athletes that I really admire, my role models for sports have always been way closer to home. For example, my freshman year of high school, I really looked up to the captain of my field hockey team. She motivated me and inspired me to work hard to become not only a great player, but a great leader, like her.
One time, I was actually inspired by a girl at my school who I barely even knew. My school had a conditioning program, which was technically open to any student, but since it was run by one of the football coaches, it was basically dominated by football players during the off-season. Still, I remembered seeing a girl working out with those boys a while back, so when my friend and I were looking to stay in shape over the summer, we realized there was no reason we couldn’t follow in her footsteps and join also.
I remember being really nervous before we went for the first time. I didn’t know a lot of the boys who were in the program and I didn’t know how they would react to us being there. But you know what? The guys and coach were all really cool about us girls joining! It’s kind of sad that I expected some snarky remarks from them, but because I did know a lot of guys who always had some rude comment to make about my sports teams, I just expected it. Nope, these guys were athletes who respected athletes.
And believe me, my friend and I held our own! At first, we just kind of talked to ourselves, but as the weeks went on, we really become a part of the group. We all worked together, whether it was encouraging each other to do another set or pushing one another through sprints. We proved we were capable of keeping up and not afraid to take on any of the challenges, and they obviously respected us by not treating us like we were any less than the guys.
I felt pretty girl-power about our decision to join and stick with it. Thinking that historically many women didn’t have the opportunity to compete in sports, it was pretty cool that I could join a male-dominated athletics group now and nobody would really question it.
That said, even though girls were allowed to join at my school, something was keeping a lot of them from doing it. It’s super important to make it legal for girls to have the opportunity to play sports, but it also is necessary to take on the attitude that sometimes still remains that says girls sports are somehow inferior. I like to think back on joining that summer as one of my first little acts of feminism, and I’m glad it was a positive experience for me.
Maybe take a few minutes today to think about some awesome female athletes that you look up to. If it’s someone in your community, tell them! And you know what, maybe YOU are someone’s female athlete role model and you don’t even realize it!
Did you know today was National Girls and Women in Sports Day? Do you have any female athlete role models? Who are they? Tell us in the comments!