Saturday, December 11, 2010

GAA and potatoes

once upon a time, back when I was in school, back when we carried hot potatoes in our coat pockets to keep our hands warm and we trudged five miles to school in the snow and ate our by-then cold potatoes for lunch . . .
yes, way back then there was this thing called GAA.
those initials stood for Girls Athletic Association, and it was what you joined if you wanted to do gymnastics, or volleyball, or ~ this was a stretch ~ girl's basketball.
a number of my friends participated in those sports, competing against the other schools in our region and state. I was more interested in drama, debate, music, and cheerleading, and it wasn't until my junior year that I joined our school's newly-established tennis team. which, as a co-ed team, never fell under the GAA umbrella.
as I said, this was all long ago and what seems like oh so far away . . .
and we females have come a long way, baby.

today I sat in the Spence Eccles Field House at the university of utah and watched two dozen female athletes hammer out a game of lacrosse, and was awed by their grace, speed, and prowess. (how often do I get to use words like prowess? I'm pretty excited to throw that in here.)
this current generation of high school-age female athletes is incredible. they've grown up having sports available to them, they've grown up participating in a variety of different athletic endeavors. because we live in salt lake city, many have grown up skiing and snowboarding, hiking and snowshoeing. they have never known a world where one had to join a Girls Athletic Association to play a sport.
and I had it better than those females in the generation before me.

I watch these teenage girls sweat, watch them wear uniforms ugly enough to dismay anyone with an ounce of fashion sense, watch them run and stretch and give their all. I see female bodies of every shape and size, and I cheer those girls who are a little thicker and still choose to play volleyball in those ridiculous spankies (you know, those things that barely cover their butts and are tighter than skin) the sport has adopted and required their players to wear.
I cheer them all; I am awed by these girls.
because they are so far ahead of me: it took me 44 years to find a sport I loved.

my son scoffs at girl's lacrosse, and I tell him he'll be lucky if he ever finds a girl to marry him.
I ask if he wants a girls who sits home and does needlework and bakes cookies? or one who is brave enough to discover the thrill of challenging your body, working with a team toward a goal, and daring ~ daring ~ to face the world sweaty, make-up free and in unflattering attire, (and who can still do needlework and bake cookies)?
I love that these girls know there is more to life than looking pretty.
and as much as I want to look like barbie when I ride my bike, I, too, know that there is more to life than being an ornament.

so here's to progress.
no more cold potatoes for lunch, no more GAA.
just healthy, active, courageous girls who dare to be all that they're capable of being.

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