Hello SK fans,
The school year is beginning again around the country, and with it, practices and tryouts for the various sports teams: football, volleyball, field hockey, etc. My Pub, though by no stretch an athlete, always enjoyed being in the game, and was always up for a race. In her day, however, school and recreational sports were primarily focused on boys.
Title 9, a 1972 Federal mandate that required schools to spend identical resources on girls and boys athletics, changed that. Change was resisted and very slow, not reaching her high school until after she graduated in 1980.
So, it was not that long ago that girls were still stranded on the sidelines while the boys duked it out on the home field. Today, however, young female athletes no longer have to wonder why they need to pack a snack for an away game, while the boys can expect on being provided a meal. They don’t have to wonder why their practice field and gear are not up to par with the boys, because there is no longer any difference.
This subject came to light in an essay My Pub wrote on a challenge the other day. She had 15 minutes to write nonstop with just the prompt: “if it had been a different time …”
MAD liked her essay and suggested it belonged here. He’s right. So, read on, and if you’re up for it, set a timer for 15 minutes and write whatever comes to mind with this prompt: “If it had been a different time…”
If it had been a different time, I would have played girls lacrosse.
But our school only had a lacrosse team for the boys. Just like the soccer team. Girls could play field hockey – which I loved, cheerlead, swim, play basketball, track and softball. But soccer and lacrosse were out. For the boys only.
I swam and ran track. I noticed how the boys’ warm up uniforms and swimsuits were of a finer quality than the girls. In fact, we girls had to SHARE swimsuits. Can you imagine that today? Yes, it grossed us out, but who were we to complain? We were lucky to have a team. No, let me correct that. The girls swim team was actually a “club,” not recognized by the athletic director so therefore not recognized on his budget.
A few years after I graduated, I was in college and learned that my old high school was starting a girls soccer team. They had to. Title Nine, which had actually kicked in during my high school years, had finally reached the public high school I attended in Nowhere, New England.
I did not think about lacrosse then. It did not come to mind until a few years ago, when a friend invited me to watch her daughter’s high school game. The girls wore plaid skirts and mouth guards thick with spit as they joggled big sticks with the little nets on them. They ran with vigor up and down the field tossing the ball from teammate to teammate.
I had this sudden urge to play. I wanted to get out there and run up and down the field with a lacrosse stick in my hand, searching for a teammate in a position to score so I could pass the ball. My adrenaline was almost out of control. I had to hold my 45-year-old self back. I was a mom now, sipping coffee on the sideline, cheering the home team.
But in my mind, I was outside on the homemade ice rink my dad, brothers and I used to construct in the backyard. Cheap lumber held a large plastic sheet in place. Several hours with the hose on it and a good overnight freeze and the next day, pure. albeit maybe a bit choppy, ice.
We’d skate for hours, playing ice hockey. A backdrop of neighbors’ houses, snow and tall pine trees. Often times my brothers’ friends would join in and we’d have a mad game of ice hockey.I could hold my own.
Every Tuesday and Thursday night our dad would take us to the public rink for free skating, to hone our skills. We’d compete with each other to skate faster, smoother, backwards. My brother Scot always won, and still does. He has the best stickhandling skills also.
Ice skating was also a part of the physical ed curriculum in our high school, hockey being such a big sport in our town, the way Texans view football. Therefore, a state-of-the-art rink was constructed on the campus.
The first day of gym in ninth grade, I was ready to show off my skills. Gym then was segregated. Girls here, boys there. Boys played ice hockey. Girls learned to twirl and jump. I learned to twirl and jump. My backwards skating was corrected to be more graceful. I learned to leap with my arms out, fingers pointed. We were told to smile while skating. That was the hardest thing I had to learn. I kept forgetting. “Smile,” the teacher would call, her lips glossed. Teeth gleaming. Hair coiffed to perfection.
I always had to be reminded to smile because this was not how I enjoyed skating.