One evening, years ago, our family was attending a “Jazz in the Park” concert. We were with friends whose daughter, Shelby, was about the same age as our son, Carter… about 5 years old. All of a sudden, Shelby’s tears interrupted our relaxing evening of Jazz. The two kids were playing in a tree, so immediately we thought she was hurt. When we came over to ask what was wrong, Shelby sobbed, “Carter said I was just a girl!” The comment was not acceptable … it was dismissive, as if being a girl was something lesser.
Last week, while waiting for class to wind down, I overheard one of the male athletes at our school commenting on the District performance of our female Triple Jumper, Lexi Hart. Lexi, a freshman, won the District meet with a jump of 38’ 10” that shattered our school record in a Bob Beamon-esque fashion – by nearly 4 feet! The comment by the male athlete was “Well, it was wind aided”… The comment was not acceptable … it was dismissive, as if the only way a girl could jump that far was with the aid of the wind.
As strength coach at our school, I was invited to participate in the volleyball “kickoff” last night. The head volleyball coach, Denise Craig, asked me to write a note to the returning and incoming volleyball athletes. Here was my message:
The girls programs at our school are outstanding. The Truman Softball team won the state 5A Championship this past year, and our Basketball team was 25-1. The Volleyball team is perennially vying for the conference and district championship.
There is no “magic bullet”… nothing is “in the water” that helps our girl’s teams be successful. They are well coached… they train hard in the off-season… they “get it”. If you came any day of the week to our Advanced Strength and Conditioning Class for Athletes, you would be impressed by how hard the girls work. As I have discussed in a previous post (Training Women Athletes) we do not train or treat our women athletes any different, or have a different set of expectations than for our men. We train them to become better athletes.
Oh… and to update both of the stories I began this post with… Carter’s comment about Shelby being “just a girl” was not a great impediment to their relationship. They have been friends for nearly 20 years. Lexi Hart followed up her “wind aided” 38’ 10” triple jump with another 38’+ jump to win the Sectional Meet last Saturday!
Jeff Floyd – firstname.lastname@example.org