As we bid farewell to 2014 and welcome the New Year, we raise our glasses (and water bottles) in a toast to girl athletes everywhere:
For their unapologetic competitiveness, tenacity, and the joy they have for their sport;
For the energy they put in to early morning and evening practices and the times they decline invitations so they get the rest they need to stay healthy;
For homework done in cars and buses to and from games;
For the strikes thrown and lay-ups made; for p-kicks made and face-offs taken; for spikes and sprints;
For pushing themselves, lifting their teammates, and playing with integrity and honor.
But the most powerful aspect of the Women's World Cup -- the part that brings a lump to my throat -- is the inspiration, hope, and role models that the players provide to millions of girls worldwide. Their commitment, perseverance, and love of the game says it all: "DREAM BIG. WORK HARD. COMPETE FIERCELY. PLAY JOYFULLY. YOU CAN DO IT!"In addition to all the amazing soccer play (how about England's go-ahead goal versus Norway?!), there have been some perceptive and thought-provoking stories about the significance and value of the Women's World Cup. Here are a few that I've particularly enjoyed: "Why the Women's World Cup Needs You to Watch," by Peter Macia in Vogue magazine The numbers of viewers, on TV and online, are vitally important, Macia argues, to sponsors, to players, to women's sports in general, and to girls watching and playing around the world. (There's that inspiration again!) "What Women's Sports Can Learn from the Colombian Women's Team," by Kate Fagan on ESPNW Given the audiences in stadiums and watching the games on screens of all kinds, there are signs of legitimacy for international women's soccer, writes Fagan. But "the final mile marker will be when everyday fans…feel comfortable offering criticism, second-guessing the coach and the choices, and putting the play itself under a microscope…. These are the conversations that fuel men's sports.
Imagine being knowledgeable enough about women's sports and knowing enough about a women's team to think you know better than the coach or a player in the game's closing minutes. Imagine knowing who else could have been the coach and which players the team might have signed. Then imagine being confident enough to actually admit you're into women's sports.""8 Reasons We Love the Women's World Cup," by SoccerGrlProbs for ESPNW World-class talent, worldwide impact, super fans and more.
Recently, though, I’ve been really inspired by body-positive campaigns that work to divorce physical activities from certain body types. For example, if you have a body and you’re wearing a swim suit, you’ve got a swim suit body! Likewise, if you have a body and you’re practicing yoga with it, that’s a yoga body. With those messages in mind, I’m challenging myself to answer “do you run?” with an enthusiastic “I try my best!”Until high school, I was haunted by a memory of (barely) completing the mile during my first week of 6th grade PE class. (For anyone who was lucky enough not to be there, I threw up in the bathroom sink in front of half the girls in my grade after practically walking four dreadful laps on the track.) With love and encouragement, I share 5 things that have helped me not only conquer my fears but also begin to enjoy running short distances:
- LISTEN TO GREAT MUSIC: Try songs with a beat similar to your pace (Spotify even has a really cool app that matches songs to your running rhythm.) Some of my favorites are classic wedding after-party songs like “September” and “Dancing in the Moonlight.”
- EMBRACE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR BREATH AND MOVEMENT: During Ashtanga yoga practice, yogis breathe with Ujjayi pranayama or “victorious breath,” a method which facilitates effortless body movement. I recommend experimenting with different breathing patterns until you find one that works for you! In contrast to #1: try running silently sometimes. There is nothing more grounding than hearing your own exhales.
- WALK WHEN YOU NEED TO: Challenge yourself, but listening to your body is important for your safety. Better to protect yourself for a future run than to over-exert!
- SET GOALS AND CELEBRATE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, EVEN LITTLE ONES: Whenever I’ve had to do something difficult in my life, from studying for the SAT to puffing through another mile, I’ve made a habit of promising myself a sushi dinner alone. Treat yourself.
- RUN FOR YOU: This last tip is a big one. Don’t compare yourself to your friend who is a UNC field hockey recruit, to your Super-Mom, or to famous athlete Shalane Flanagan. It’s great to set an intention for your work out or to dedicate a run to someone who needs it or to a great cause. Ultimately, though, the most rewarding thing about running is that, unlike most other sports, the only thing you need to run is you.
By putting one foot in front of the other and working up a sweat, you’re honoring your body and all the wonderful things it’s capable of doing, so run for yourself.
There's no arguing the fitness benefits for girls playing sports -- but does it really increase their likelihood of success later in life? Athletics teach values that go far beyond the court or field: cooperation, determination, discipline, and how to succeed under pressure.
As more women enter the C-Suite, it's notable how many laid the foundation for their success playing competitive sports early in life.
Corie Barry spent much of her career with Best Buy, having served as Chief Financial Officer before being named CEO. Before that, she played college rugby and considered a career in dance. For her, an impressive title and resume must include her husband and two kids, youth baseball games, gymnastics with her daughter, and active time spent together with her family.
"My point of view is there is no perfect balance," says Barry. "All you can do is figure out what works for you. I laugh because I'm always the mom who shows up at the baseball game in my heels, and that's OK."
Whether it's business or sports, Barry has advice we can all use. "I've always felt it's important to demand a return on your investment. If you're going to put your time in, where you put it in and the return you get is incredibly important because there are only so many hours in a day."
Corie's is an inspiring success story for athletic girls in every sport.
Our girls need strong examples of women that aren’t afraid to stand up and blaze a trail. Women who took the brave step forward to break a barrier, not just for themselves, but for the generations of women that come after them.
In 1977, three women came together and did just that. Each with their own personal superpower, they found a way to bring something into existence that would change the face of women’s athletic wear and women’s participation in sports forever At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith were honored for their invention of the Jogbra and will be inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame on May 6, 2020.
This brainchild initially came from Lindahl, an avid runner from Burlington, Vermont, who discovered that conventional bras lacked the support and design needed for the level of physical exertion running required. She wanted a bra with stable straps, breathable fabric, compression...and comfort. Lindahl asked Polly Smith, her childhood friend and costume designer for assistance in creating something that could meet the need.
Polly referenced the world of men’s athletic wear and sewed two jockstraps together, which Lindahl wore on her runs. After real-life testing, Smith modified the prototype, adding non-chafing seams and an elastic band for support. Lisa Lindahl partnered with Hinda Miller to co-found Jogbra Inc. in 1977. The garment, created out of necessity and passion, was patented in 1979.
Jogbra, which grew into a multi-million-dollar business, is credited with helping millions of women run in comfort and with confidence. The impact of the Jogbra on women’s health and the growth of women’s sports is undeniable thus earning Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller, and Polly Smith their historic membership in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Keep in mind, the National Inventors Hall of Fame only started inducting women in 1991 and to date, of 603 inductees, only 47 are women—less than 8%.
Dragonwing’s beginnings were much like Lisa Lindahl’s. Founder MaryAnne Gucciardi repeatedly found herself and her athletic tween daughter at a loss when shopping for appropriate and supportive sports bras, athletic camis and compression shorts designed specifically for young girls.
Much like Polly Smith, MaryAnne focused on creating a highly functional sports bra. A major pain point for girls are straps that slip, droop or chafe. Another is a sports bra that rides up because the bottom band doesn’t have enough support – or a bottom band that digs because it is too compressive. Dragonwing’s sports bras address these issues with a wide bottom band which is essential for support and straps that don’t droop, slip or chafe. As well, Dragonwing has zeroed in on the amount of fabric on the back of their sports bras. It’s a crucial element often missed by other teen athletic wear designers and serves an important functional purpose—it helps prevent back problems as active girls grow.
With a line of athletic sports gear like Dragonwing, girls can embrace their femininity and their athleticism without sacrificing the quality of the gear they wear and feel secure in the support their developing bodies need.
The most popular professional sports in America, in the world, even, are dominated by men- think football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and, though an increasingly large number of females are playing sports, women’s professional leagues still suffer from lack of interest. This is in part because our society has long been adamant that sports are only for men but also because the legacy and culture of men’s sports are passed down from father to son.
As a brand devoted to helping develop women’s sports and girls’ interest in sports, Dragonwing girlgearⓇ believes it is crucial for girls to learn about female athletes who have conquered in order to see them as role models. Boys, and girls, who don’t play baseball are well aware of Babe Ruth’s story. What about the other Babe? Not that many young female golfers, basketball players, or runners learn about Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the athlete extraordinaire who excelled at all of those sports.
This trend we’re seeing, of female athletes remaining obscure and girls remaining deprived of female role models in the sports arena, must end if women are to achieve equality in the world of athletics. If the stories of strong, successful female soccer players, figure skaters, runners, and gymnasts aren’t told, their successes will be lost to this generation of girls. Girls should grow up with the belief that they too can become a part of sports history and that there is a spot for them in the world of sports. To understand this, though, the tales of successful female athletes need to be shared.
In order to rectify this social pattern and to raise awareness of successful female athletes, Sideline Chatter is going to be featuring such legends every Monday and on their birthdays, celebrating the players who have established women’s rightful place in the world of sports.