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?

Powers Lake Woodbury, MN

Back in August, I had a brilliant idea. I wanted to start a weekly blog conversation about the ways people purposefully put themselves into new places. I had a bad title (Walkin’ on Sunshine Wednesdays)…. and….. I forgot to write any other posts. Even more inconsistent was the fact that I didn’t even walk!

So here I go again. The first Wednesday of the year, and my intention remains. I want Wednesdays to be the days I challenge myself to “go and grow” somewhere. It doesn’t have to be somewhere entirely new, but I want to take a photo,  and then write a quick blurb about how I’ve been inspired.

Today I went to the frozen version of Powers Lake. It’s the lake I walk all the time, but to watch its subtle changes through the seasons…I’m reminded how small I am, how little control I have over everything, and how I am meant to appreciate beautiful changes…both big and small. Plus, I just had to venture there today. It is 35 degrees and I saw four ice-fishing people.

(Note to self: explore most what you don’t understand)

Maybe next week I’ll venture INTO one of the ice fishing tents. If not, I will still make the point of going to and documenting how I grow next Wednesday.

I invite any and all people who would like to come along with me. Email me at: choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com

If you send me photos, or a link to a blogpost, or  a tweet with the #choosetogrow hashtag (see…even I can speak twitterese!) or a Facebook link.  I will start to include other people’s Wednesday growth here too.

Happy Growing!!

Learn more about Meagan Frank at her website: www.meaganfrank.com

I Am Losing It

I used to have an edge.

I used to wake up every morning intent on being the best at something, and there were times when I actually was. I felt like I had the drive of a national team player..even if I really didn’t.

Whether it were grades in school, performance on a field or on a court, working harder than the next guy at my job.  My life revolved around being the best at everything I did.

Something drastic has happened to my competitive drive.

I still have goals, and I hope to make a difference with my life, but I am losing the focus to succeed.

That’s a problem, right?

I should still want to be better than everyone else, at writing sentences or connecting on social media. I should be faster and stronger and more competent than everyone around me.

That’s not what I want anymore.

Maybe it’s a midlife thing. Maybe I am finally looking around and wondering what purpose is served by being the best.

Maybe the point is not to be first in line, but to be the most pleasant and loving person standing in line. To pay attention to those around me. To make eye contact and engage intently. How could I ever do that if I am keeping my focus in front of me, only glancing behind to make sure no one is gaining on me?

God is working on me….of this I am sure.

I wrote two blog posts last week, for my new Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It . The first had to do with the fact that, instead of division I level competition,  I am doing Jazzercise now. The second talked about how top-level female athletes are wielding sex-appeal to drive up the popularity of women in sports.  I had no idea that these two things were going to collide for me this morning.

I woke up eager to get to my Jazzercise class, and as we exercised, I fumbled with a few of the new songs. There is nothing quite as humbling as having had so many years of physical prowess mean nothing as my feet are supposed to sashe’ across the room gracefully. I’ve never moved that way.

Toward the end of the class, when we were in a long set of shoulder presses, the instructor started talking about Dancing with the Stars. She was rattling off the famous contestants, and I was just waiting to hear her announce that Hope Solo was among the contestants.  She asked us who she was missing, and I piped up, “Hope Solo!”

“Hope Solo, who’s that?” She looked at me with a quizzical expression.

“She’s the goalie for the US National soccer team,” I told her.

“Oh, a soccer player,” she relayed to the class through her microphone as she continued to press and lift and press and lift.

There is a part of me that is sad Hope Solo is not a name Jazzercisers apparently know, but now I am really hoping she does well in the competition. She deserves to have people know who she is, and soccer deserves some pop-culture recognition. Hope is crossing a line into celebrity, and I will be cheering for her to do well.

Going to Jazzercise crosses a line for me too. My college teammates can hardly imagine that I am floating on a wood floor lifting barely more than five pounds in my lifting routine, but I love it.

I love it because it is new, I have to learn something, I get better each time, it is not monotonous, it is social, it is not competitive, and I feel great when I’m done.  That’s all I need exercise to be for me anymore.

I have shed the attitude that if women cannot move as quickly as I can, or are as coordinated as I am, or have the strength I admire, they are not worth my time.

I applaud the women who go to these classes who are heavy, or older, or not quite as coordinated as other athletes I’ve known. They show up.

What makes their exercise, their presence in that room, any less important? They are each worthy of the unconditional love we all crave. (Oh my gosh, I think I’m sounding like a hippie pacifist or something!!)

There is a place for competition, but I want to invest more time in my life on  relationships. I don’t want to beat people anymore, and if that is the “IT” I’ve lost, I’m seriously okay with that.

In the next few days, I’ll be writing a blogpost on the Choosing to Grow: For the Sport of It blog about whether winning and losing should be the focus for sports, and if that should be the aim at every level of competition.  If you are interested in the sports theme and topic, make sure to subscribe to that blog.  Rarely are my two blogs going to collide like they did today.

Learn more about Meagan at her website:  www.meaganfrank.com