Today girls can be both a girly girl and a chef, a ballerina and an artist, a princess, and an athlete. Life was a bit more lopsided when I was a child, although I didn’t realize at the time how much things WERE changing.
I have always been open to liking and participating in sports. It’s just that I’m not that good.
My grandma would collect newspaper clippings whenever any event I was involved in was mentioned. So I assumed that you could still try anything you wanted to try. All you had to do was participate really.
Now, it was 4th Grade when I began stretching my sports muscle. Unbeknownst to me, I was living in the newborn Title 9 era. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a quick search of google defines Title IX as…
“the most commonly used name for the federal civil rights law in the United States that was enacted as part (Title IX) of the Education Amendments of 1972. It prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government.”
It began innocently enough. In the hallway at Washington Elementary school, I saw a plain white notice taped to the wall in the hallway announcing baseball tryouts on Saturday.
I told my parents that I was going to try out.
My friend Mary and I rode our bikes that Saturday to the Athletic field. We really wanted to be on the same team. So, in our minds, it was vital that we catch and hit with the same ability (this made sense to our 10-year-old brains).
We ran to the outfield together. If Mary caught a flyball, so did I. If the grounder got past her, I “missed” the ball also. Same when we showed our hitting ability.
Days later, we discovered that we were on two different teams. My team turned out to be the worst in the city league, hers was the championship runners-up.
My coach was this old farmer guy. He had two sons on our team. Both of them had developmental disabilities. They both played every inning. I mostly warmed the bench.
Mom would drop me off at the Jefferson School diamond on Saturday morning and she’d pick me up when she was done grocery shopping.
I still remember the first practice where we chose our team name. All the boys threw out the names of their favorite teams. I only knew the Brewers. I’m not sure how or why we chose the A’s, but that was it.
I played one season. I usually struck out when I got to bat. There was this feeling of anxiety with the spotlight of pressure with all eyes on me. It was a crap shoot if I would make a connection between my bat and the ball. What did they even mean with yells of “step into the pitch” or “keep your eye on the ball”?
I did hit one double.
I don’t think I ever made a run.
But I could catch balls in the outfield. That was fun and easy…but I couldn’t necessarily through the ball to the infield accurately. Problem.
Mary and I were the only two girls in the whole league. At the time, it was just what it was. I was interested in trying out and I guessed that there weren’t other girls besides Mary and me in town who were into baseball. (I don’t think I had ever even heard the word “softball”.)
I’m glad that girls today have more choices.
I’ve never actually seen a girl wearing a tutu at a softball game, but it could happen. Who says you have to choose between being strong and being feminine?
And knowing my grandma, she would just smile as she cut out the picture from the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen with her great-granddaughter playing ball wearing a tiara instead of a baseball cap.