Today at lunch with my teaching comrades, I was asked an interesting question. I had just finished relaying my tale of woe of this past week: the two doctor's visits and two possible and very impending knee surgeries right on the heels of one. As is the case with any injury or surgery, people were curious - wondering why on Earth was a woman as young as 25 having major knee problems? That answer is easy - I've been playing competitive sports since I was eight years old which calculates to be about 17 years spent on courts and in gyms. Most of those 17 years have been spent sprinting up and down a basketball court, dodging left and right trying to get to the basket as well as jumping up for the rebounds of badly aimed shots. In addition to the time spent on the court, many hours were spent on the track and in neighborhoods, pounding the pavement to stay in shape and in the weightroom, racking and unracking weights to build powerful muscles. And now that my glory days are behind me, what am I left with? A few scars here and there, creaky joints and most importantly the mindset of "I can and I will because there is no other choice."
And then the question was asked "So when you have a daughter are you going to let her play all these sports, even though you know the possible outcomes when she is your age?"
I smirked to myself, glanced down at my finished lunch plate briefly and then raised my head and looked at this person with confidence and pride in my voice and said clearly for the entire table to hear: "Absolutely. Without a doubt."
I look back at my childhood and youth and realize that some of my proudest moments came from the basketball court. And the moments I'm not so proud of that occurred after I quit basketball and during college when most flag football games were played with a slight inebriation? I had nothing pushing me to be the best person...Friday nights were party nights because there was nothing I had to wake up for on Saturday morning...I wasn't accountable to anyone for my behavior or the shape of my body. I ate what I craved, drank enough to suppress the guilt and smoked all the way along with both. There was no true purpose to my body so I didn't care what I did to it.
Looking at myself today, I know my body has a purpose. It might not be as shaped or toned as it was in high school, but I can feel that it's healthier. Accepting one's body as it is is a continual purpose because a woman's body is constantly changing along with age. I will never be the 135 pounds that I graduated high school at, but I'm okay with that. Because in high school, I was the post that was always getting pushed around on the court because of my willowy figure. Now? I'm the big girl on any court that is intimidating, but along with the power and the determination to back it up. I'm proud of using my thighs to jump so that I can hit the ball - they have a purpose and the serve me well. Sure...I'm like any girl in that I would love to have a flat stomach again and maybe one day, I'll feel compelled to get into an actual work-out facility to tediously tone up...but until then, I'm just going to play sports and have fun.
I want my daughters to have the same emotional and character building experiences as I did while playing sports. I learned...
- the game isn't over until the last buzzer sounds. You always give 100% no matter the score.
- life doesn't revolve around one person. It takes a whole team of people to achieve something great.
- it's really not about losing or winning. All that matters is setting a goal, putting your heart into it and seeing your goals realized.
- sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it. Even though you might not agree or like it...just get it over with and you'll feel much better.
I don't care if my daughters become Division I athletic superstars. I don't care if they even become All-District competitors. I wasn't either of those things, and I still learned great character traits regardless of my notoritiy in the athletic world. I truly am convinced that children become better adults through any and all competitive endeavors. From band to baseball, choir to karate and theater to triathlons...the messages and the lessons are the same. I just want my kids to be strong, independent, confident and determined adults who treat others with respect and tolerance...and sports taught me all of those things.