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Mom, I Love Cross-Country

"Mom, I LOVE cross-country." Ok. Wow. I'm going to take a little detour here because I know Dragonwing sells sports gear for tween and teen girls, but today I'm going to write about my 7th grade son. D is an avowed "nerd." He swam in the past because I made him and he could see his friends, but it wasn't something he embraced. Most of his summer activity was whatever was going on at summer camp, summer swim, and watching Netflix. He joined the (no-cut) middle school cross country team this past week. I want to note that the North Carolina weather has been high 90s with high humidity all week. On the second or third day of practice, he hopped into the car after practice dripping sweat with a bright red face. I braced myself for the complaint. "Mom, I LOVE cross-country." Pause. Deep breath. Inside, I was jumping up and down. "What do you like about it?" "I don't know, it's fun. We ran through the woods today and picked apples. The trails are fun and it was shady." I'm delighted. Beyond happy. Because everything we know about why sports are good for girls also applies to boys, especially the slightly nerdy, not your-typical-jock boy. Over the course of the cross-country season, D is going to benefit from teamwork, hard work, camaraderie, seeing his own times (hopefully) improve, and understand that running, as with almost any sport, can be a lifetime pursuit. And the beauty of running is its simplicity. As humans, we were designed to move and to run. It's in our DNA. I'm glad D is literally following in my footsteps. But even more importantly, I'm hoping he has found his "sport." His go-to activity when he's having a bad day or needs to work off some excess stress. The "runner's high" is real. A long time ago, I wrote that no matter how bad a day was, as long as I completed my run, it was a good enough day. For D, I'm hoping this cross-country season is the season where he discovers the joy of sports.

Back to School--A Parent's Perspective

Following on Emma's post about returning to school, I thought I'd write about "Back to School" from one parent's perspective. My absolute favorite thing about summer is no homework. Zilch, nada, zero. Summer evenings are less tense because we are out of the "get your homework done, eat dinner, go to swim practice, shower, go to bed" frenzy. On the other hand, the kids were binging on Netflix and made it to the seventh season of Supernatural. I am not proud of that. I LOVE back to school shopping--all that promise with clean binders, new pens, folders, and the promise of a new school year. Everything is bright and new, and as Emma said, the kids seem genuinely glad to see their friends for the first few days. A few months later, extraneous papers will trail out of my son's binder and he will have lost several assignments, never to be found. And as much as I love a lazy week, I'm also glad we're back on some sort of routine though waking up is a bit tough. By 10 am I'm ready for lunch. However, never underestimate the power of a good power nap. This year Anna has "Emotional Health," which I believe is a form of meditation often leading to a midday snooze. And now that we're back in a routine, my job search is kicking into high gear. My previous freelance gig terminated in July, so it's now time for me to hit the ground running, resume in hand. In summary, I have mixed feelings about back to school. I'm glad the kids have structure to their day, and they are being challenged by their teachers. I don't like being the "homework police" so I'm trying to get out of that job and let my son bear the consequences. We'll all get used to the early mornings and if not, Labor Day is just around the corner!

"The Only Sports Bra My Daughter Will Wear"

We love customer feedback of all kinds -- it helps us make the best fitting, best performing girls athletic wear possible. And we especially love to hear that girls love the comfort, performance, and fit of their Dragonwing girlgear. Vicki wrote to say that the Half Tee Sports Top is "the only sports bra my daughter will wear. She loves that it is soft and lower, so she can wear it to all her games knowing that she is covered!!" Super soft and comfortable, the Half-Tee is perfect under everyday school clothes and sports jerseys, especially ones with lower cut or scooped arm holes, like basketball, lacrosse, or track. We also hear that lots of girls wear these sports bras under their pajama tops -- they're THAT comfortable! Customer review: "only girls sports bra my daughter will wear" Click for teen sports bras, training bras

Brand-New Resources Page

We have added a new Resources page to our sideline chatter blog! This resource page, entitled "Essentials for a Confident Girl Athlete" includes a growing list of tools that we at Dragonwing think are vital for the empowerment and success of female athletes and for the aid of their parents! Visit our resources page now and keep checking our blog for weekly posts as we add more essentials to our list.

Instagram Contest!

Dragonwing girlgear is sponsoring a contest on Instagram, and we are accepting photos between now and August 8th! All you have to do is post a picture of you playing your favorite sport, and then use #dragonwinggirl and tag us @dragonwinggirl! The winner will receive a $50 gift card, and second and third place get 15% off Dragonwing merchandise! For more information on the contest, see our website, or visit our Instagram account. We can't wait to see your photos! instagram contest

4 Tips Every Young Athlete Should Know for Staying Hydrated

After a long, cold winter just about everywhere in the US, what a relief it is to have warmer weather and longer days. Practices and games that occur during the heat of the day can bring the risk of dehydration, especially for young athletes. Staying hydrated can help athletes feel and play their best. The U.S. Soccer Federation uses the acronym GOAL for its recommendations for youth athletes, parents, and coaches. Get acclimated: Young athletes especially need to give their bodies time to adjust to higher, more humid temperatures. Wearing shorts, tops, and sports bras made of moisture-wicking fabric (not cotton) helps your body cool itself. On-schedule drinking: Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Increase how much you drink throughout the day, every day. Develop the habit of drinking a glass of water before you go to bed or when you get up in the morning. And be sure to drink before practice or a game, too. Always bring a drink to practices and games. Stay away from caffeinated, so-called “energy” drinks that can cause health problems, especially in young people. To replace electrolytes after you finish playing, try chocolate milk, V-8 juice, or 100% fruit juice, which contains more carbohydrates, potassium, and nutrients than a sports drink Learn the signs of dehydration: dizziness, nausea, chills, and unusual fatigue. If you experience any of these, stop playing, move to a cooler location, drink fluids, and – most importantly – notify a coach, parent, or other adult. What you wear can help keep you cool, too. Dragonwing girlgear is made from fabric that wicks moisture so your body stays cooler. Check out our new Mesh Racer Sports Bra and Un-Dee Light Compression Shorts.

Passing on the Stories

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 on their birthdays, celebrating the players who have established women’s place in the world of sports.

How I Became a Swim Mom

I never planned on becoming a “swim mom” but my daughter had other plans. She played rec league soccer and was a good goalie but quit early on because she said, “Mom, I get too sweaty.” I thought that was the end of her sports participation because I couldn’t think of a sport where you DON’T get sweaty. And in addition, she wasn’t very coordinated. Anna was the kid that tripped over lint in the carpet. Literally.

But she always loved the water. When Anna turned seven she decided to join our summer rec swim team, mainly because her friends were doing it. And that was my initiation into the culture of swimming. Swim meets are different from other sports competitions in that it is not a “drop off” experience. Rec league meets require LOTS of parents volunteering—timers, starters, place judges, scorers --you name it, it’s done by a parent. And I was that parent. At the end of the season she won the “most improved” award for her age group. With hindsight I believe it was a testament to her hard work.

Fast forward to middle school. Anna was still swimming on our summer team but the stress of 6th grade was taking a toll on her. She had high expectations of herself and no way to release her anxiety. She was a walking ball of stress. She would do cartwheels and handsprings until 10 or 11 pm every night trying to burn off her anxiety. In desperation, I found a fall rec swim league through our city that her friends were also joining. The pool was close, the price was right ($60 for 8 weeks) and it was a good middle step between summer rec and a full year-round program. Her coach was a former college swimmer who had all kinds of creative workouts and worked the kids really hard. At the end of every practice my anxious, tense daughter would be tired, relaxed, and happy. Swimming was her “miracle drug.”

I couldn’t say no to something that made her so happy. And as an athlete myself I knew all the benefits of training and competition—camaraderie, friendships, challenging yourself, making a commitment and sticking with it, dealing with disappointment, taking care of your body and honoring its strength and power.

Thanks to Anna there are damp towels and swim suits all over my house and my car proudly sports the “swim mom” magnet. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Last Firsts from a Soccer Mom. - Dragonwing Girl

Last Firsts from a Soccer Mom.

It is that time of year for parents of high school seniors when we're enjoying the last -firsts of many club and high school events. Last first soccer game of the year, last first day of the last semester, last club night. Looking back at all the things I've learned, I've decided (rather than wallow), I'd share a few of the most useful lessons. From the importance of chocolate milk to the recruiting process. Make sure to catch next few blogs. I'd love to hear your stories and tips too! Here's to team Glow Angel -where it all started, and to the coaches, parents and friends I've made on the fields. xo MaryAnne
I can't, I have soccer - Dragonwing Girl

I can't, I have soccer

I'm busy. Like really busy. So busy that I don't know what to do with myself when I don't have anything to do on a school night. Since 5th grade I have had to balance homework and at least one activity almost every school night. Earlier on in high school, I would go to school each day, leave from school and go straight to soccer practice, come home from soccer and work on my homework, and go to bed, wake up and do it all over again. I typically had one night off from soccer each week, and that was strictly devoted to homework and sleep. On Friday afternoons, I would leave for the weekend to take a bus trip to another state for two games. Getting ahead (or catching up!) was key. Now, I have two jobs, a senior level amount of homework, college apps, numerous clubs to keep track of, on top of sleeping, and making time with friends. But it all gets done, and I haven't gone crazy, at least not yet. I've seen this picture over and over on Twitter...and I disagree! You can even make this a square by adding SPORTS to this and there's a way to reach all four corners. It's difficult, and can be exhausting, but there's always a way to manage. Knowing what you want to do, and what's most important to you is the key. I always put school at the top of my triangle, so no matter what, my school work gets done. Sleep typically comes second, although sometimes it comes behind my sports. As for a social life, yes, it's true, I've missed school dances and other school events during the week. And the "I can't, I have soccer" has made it out of my mouth more than a few times, but I still believe in my social life. We're with our friends all day at school! And a soccer game at 3:00 on Saturday doesn't mean the whole night is gone (although it might feel that way sometimes). Not to mention teammates can also be good friends. Being so busy, I've grown to worship my agenda! Prioritizing my work, taking advantage of free time and getting ahead when I can, keeps me sane. I'm a girl who can not function on less than 7 hours of sleep. 11PM is my maximum bedtime on school nights. I make a habit of writing down EVERYTHING I have to do, and it feels that much better when I get to cross each event off. You can always make it through another day no matter what your schedule looks like. Leave a comment below with your biggest challenge or best tip for maintaining your balance.
Is now the time to try karate? Renshi Lisa thinks so! - Dragonwing Girl

Is now the time to try karate? Renshi Lisa thinks so!

In our last newsletter, we shared links for a variety of free online workouts. One was karate with Renshi Lisa Magiera (renshi means “polished teacher”). Lisa was introduced to martial arts 25 years ago, when a friend invited her to join a class. She’s now a 4th degree black belt and runs a dojo (a karate studio) in Maine that offers online and (when permitted) in-person classes and classes in several after-school programs.


Many of our customers wear Dragonwing girlgear (sports bra, spandex short or cami) under their karate uniform, which is called a Gi. Lisa’s daughter Jordan wears our sports bra and compression shorts under her Gi.


There are many types of martial arts, so Lisa recommends exploring a couple until you find one that fits your personality. I interviewed Lisa recently to learn more about her interest in practicing and teaching martial arts to people of all ages. Below are some excerpts of our conversation.

How did you get into Karate?  A friend in New York invited me to an Aikido class 25 years ago. It was fun, so I tried a few different types of martial arts. Karate is the one that stuck! Today, my entire family practices karate: my husband is a 3rd degree black belt, and my children Jordan (18) and Nick (16) are both 2nd degree.

At Dragonwing, we’re all about empowering girls to be strong and confident in sports and life. How can karate help empower pre-teen and teen girls?  Girls face body image challenges, bullying, and other stresses, especially beginning around age 11. They want to be their own unique selves AND they want to fit in. I use karate as a way to tell girls to be vibrantly you. Karate makes girls feel stronger and safer and improves their mental health.

I see it in my students: as girls gain confidence in class at the dojo, they take that confidence with them into the world. They learn more than physical skills; they gain mental toughness and the strength to stand up for themselves.

But isn’t karate a very standardized athletic activity? How can you make it uniquely you? Karate allows for a safe space to be strong, for big, strong, personal moments. Especially in sparing, karate can give you space to be you. You feel strong, capable, and proud. I think that applies to all sports. You can be completely different in your sport than you are at school or at home.

What are the benefits of karate? Karate is good for focus, agility, brain balance, strength, and community. Being part of the dojo community is so important during this time of social distancing. Practicing together, even when we’re physically apart, helps us feel connected to something bigger.

How do you recommend people choose a dojo? It’s about personality and fit. If possible, try a couple of different places and see which one works for you. There’s a lot of variety in martial arts so there’s something for everyone. At Bushido Karate Dojo here in Maine, our students range from 3 to 60 years old.

How can doing karate benefit athletes who play other sports? Karate is three dimensional: it helps with kicking and posture alignment, teaches body movement, and, at a basic level, releasing kinetic energy – what I call, the kinetic chain. When our body is well aligned, it makes the most efficient use of energy.

Karate also is great for cross-training because it works different muscles – or uses the same muscles differently – than your main sport. For example, we worked with a lacrosse team on how to roll, pull up, and still have the ball – all using karate movements!

Tell us about the free online karate class you’re offering? We’ve got a fun, high energy class every weekday (Monday – Friday) at 11 a.m. (EDT). Anyone can sign up on our website, Bushido Karate Dojo, scroll down the page, enter your information, and we’ll send you the link for joining the class.  

How to contact Lisa
207-627-7170
https://strongersafersmarter.me/ 
bkdfitness@gmail.com

Founders of JogBra inducted into Inventors Hall of Fame Dragonwing girlgear

Inventors of the First Sports Bra Inducted into Hall of Fame

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.