Where’d You Grow Wednesday?

February 1, 2012

I grew to appreciate my female-sport-loving-self.

Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. DON’T STOP READING!!! I know the topic of women in sports can be controversial. There are those people who think women’s sports are a bore. There are the women who don’t understand the psychology of a woman who would sacrifice so much of her life to something that seemingly no one cares about but her. There is still blatant sexism when it comes to women and sports, and I am becoming increasingly aware of the tension. All I want is a small opportunity to share with you some of the recent growth I’ve done with regard to this subject.

Some cool things happened this past week to broaden my enthusiasm for girls and women in sports. On the other hand, things have happened to promote my awareness that there are many issues female athletes still face.

First, the cool stuff:

  • I interviewed, via skype, Anthony Thornton, a national-level women’s field hockey coach in Australia (he is an example of solid support for women in sports)
  • I took the minutes for a quarterly meeting for Positive Coaching Alliance. The launch committee for the Twin Cities office is comprised mostly of men, but I have felt warmly accepted by them and I feel encouraged to contribute to this effort.
  • I accepted an invitation to present at the Female ADM Symposium for USA Hockey about girl team dynamics and team-building
  • I attended the University of Minnesota Tucker Center Film Festival featuring Salaam Dunk– a documentary about a college women’s basketball team in Iraq whose members were competing on a team for the first time in their lives.
  • Little Sprout (our 6-year-old daughter) had an opportunity to skate with her team at the Excel Energy Center (where the Wild play) and no one cared she was the only girl.

Some of the not-so-positive things I’m noticing:

  • Mainstream media has little interest in women’s sports. Try this yourself: count the local sports news stories about girls or women. I saw one story the ENTIRE week. Apparently I am not crazy. An extensive study done at the University of Southern California determined that not only is the coverage of women’s athletics in LA abyssmal (1.6%) but that is DOWN from 1989. National sports giant ESPN is even worse. (1.4% coverage of women’s sports)
  • On a much smaller scale, but important in our house right now: Middle Sprout’s U10 girls’ team had to play in the worst rink our hockey association uses. It was the third time they have played there this year, and there seems to be a discrepancy in the way the association schedules the games between the boys and the girls.
  • I’ve struggled to get a response to repeated attempts to connect with the Star Tribune sports editors. (I know most editors are too busy to connect with anyone, so I hope it’s not the content of the articles I’m proposing…nor the fact that I am a woman that has delayed response)
  • And sadly, the Women’s Professional Soccer League (WPS), a league that had once shown so much promise for female soccer players, has suspended operation for this year. (and who knows if there will be momentum to get it started again?)

So, why are all of these things important: WOMEN’S SPORTS SHOULD MATTER TO ALL OF US. It shouldn’t matter to just the women who play at the highest levels, but also to the women who want a social place to experience the magic of sports competition.  It should matter to the men who father girls, to the men who marry them, to the men who work with and for them, and this will require a necessary shift in culture. We need to believe and promote:

Sports done right, make all people better.

It is widely accepted that sports are good for girls, specifically.  Youth sports expert, Brooke DeLench, has a phenomenal article laying out how Sports Benefit Girls in Many Ways. The benefits cover physical, social, emotional and intellectual aspects of life.

The benefits far outweigh the challenges, and I know with absolute certainty that I will continue to grow through the female sporting experience.

Copyright 2012  Meagan Frank                       Choosing to Grow

To learn more about Meagan Frank or the current book project she is working on, you can visit her at www.meaganfrank.com.

Where’d You Grow Wednesday?

January 18, 2012 Edition

Shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, MN

I grew excited about being a goalie’s mom.

Going to Duluth for hockey is not an unusual trip for me. Our oldest has had a tournament there at least once a year for the last four years.

What was different about this trip was the fact that this tournament was a girls’ hockey tournament…and the player in my room…well, she was the goalie.

I knew when our daughter expressed an interest in playing full-time goalie for her hockey team, it was going to be a growing experience for both of us. What I didn’t expect was what that growth would look and feel like. And I was especially unprepared for how much I would learn about her in the process.

Playing sports makes people vulnerable. If they play with every ounce of energy and emotion that they have, they leave the field, or the court, or the rink completely spent.

Playing goalie makes people even more vulnerable. It takes a special kind of character to put yourself on the line between the other team and the goal they are shooting toward.

It takes self-confidence, focus, fearlessness and strength.

I’m not a good goalie. My daughter…well, she is a good goalie.

It’s not just that she has some physical skill. What I learned about my daughter this weekend is that she has a focus and an intensity that keeps her present in a potentially stress-filled situation. She has a calm presence and a confidence I wasn’t even aware she had.

Here she is….the tiny little goalie at center-ice

She remained poised through the weekend, and I was fascinated watching this side of her emerge.

I loved too, the role I got to play as “Haley’s Mom.”

Because she has additional equipment to put on, I get to be in the locker-room with the team as they prep for practices and games. By the end of the weekend, the entire team would yell when I entered, “Hi, Haley’s mom!” and I would reply, “Hi, Haley’s teammates!”

I helped to tie player’s skates, pull on jerseys, tighten equipment and give fist bumps as they waited.  It was a connection to this special group of girls that I hadn’t anticipated…All because my daughter is the goalie.

Some additional fun photos of the girls:

Painting nails between games

Watching intermission entertainment at the U of M vs. UMD women's hockey game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other places of inspiration for growth I’ve found this week:

Mamawolfe shared yet another inspirational link about taking teenagers to a soup kitchen.

This video shows a birthday wish created by a woman’s dying husband. (get kleenex for this one) It’s a reminder to love completely, every chance you get.

Have any other inspirational growing stories you want to share? Email me the link or send me the photos of where you grow: You can email me  choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com or post your story on my Facebook page.

Happy Growing!

To learn more about Meagan Frank, you can visit her at her website:  www.meaganfrank.com