40 years ago today, Title IX went into effect – basically saying that no one can be excluded or denied benefits or discriminated against on the basis of sex. I always just thought Title IX meant girls can play sports. I realize now that it has meant much more to my life than just that.
As a Smithie, I think my senses are naturally heightened about discrimination. I am humbly indebted to the amazing women before me who were such pioneers in paving the way to the life I have been able to lead. For one, it opened up doors in technology.
I was a young CIO – Chief Information Officer – which meant I was responsible for all the technology for our 7 offices across the country, during the dawning of the Internet. Everything was changing and I was in the middle of some incredible projects.
I was the only woman officer of the company. I also was the first pregnant officer – which did not go smoothly – to put it mildly. I actually was shocked at how I was treated, especially since I was somewhat of a golden child there for 7 years. I saw first-hand what other women had talked about – but I never thought it would happen to me.
I ended up leaving the company but my eyes were opened. There is still work to be done.
You may have read some of my recent posts about my introduction to the world of coaching. I coached my daughter’s softball team. It reminded me when I was twelve – shortly after Title IX had passed – that they started a girls softball league for us – for ages 10-12. I got to play for one year. There was no league for 13-year-olds.
There were SO many girls who still wanted to play – now that we all had gotten a taste of being on a team.
We had a big meeting in the church basement. I remember a turning point in the meeting where they said that we couldn’t go forward with a league unless someone would step up and be the President.
I looked up at my mother with a hopeful (begging) look.
She stepped up. We started a league.
I still run into people today who say, “The reason we have a girls league is because of Erin Moran’s big blue eyes!”
That year we went to the State Finals! We didn’t even have uniforms – we had to borrow the boys’ uniforms (who had been kicked out of the playoffs early on!) It was an amazing experience.
I was disappointed that there were only 2 women coaches in all 5 of the town softball leagues this year. One of my youngest players gives me hope though. One night when I was short-handed, her mother had said to me,”My husband was thinking of coaching but can’t get to the games by 6 o’clock.”
To which her daughter looked up to her with big blue eyes and replied, “Well, mom, why don’t YOU coach?”
Go girls go!
Check out the cool ESPN mural of women athletes. I added my girls team – the Disco Pandas – along with my Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk Team and teaching my kids to ski at Park City, Utah. What about you?
Thanks for being here and here’s to YOUR Year of Action,
I was going to write, “There is no joy in Panda-ville” but that’s not really true. It is true that the Panda’s ride is over. We lost. We lost big. I think the final score was 8-2. It was not pretty. The other team was a finely oiled machine. Very intense. Very determined to beat us – the only team that beat them all season. And beat us they did. We never really found our mojo.
the “no joy in Panda-ville” didn’t seem to fit.
If you look at the faces after the game (with their “original Panda cookies”), and you had to guess the outcome of the game, it would be hard to tell that we lost. Yes – they were VERY disappointed. They wanted to play in the championship on Saturday. They had worked so hard.
It is a learning league. It’s about learning skills. Learning good sportsmanship. Learning that sometimes things don’t go your way and you lose. But it’s also about learning to do your best. About keeping your head high. About congratulating your opponent. (About having a cookie and moving on.)
Plus – we won the After Game Relay Race. A perfect record. 12-0. We are the fastest girls team in 3/4th grade softball! So we ended on a high note.
Here’s to the mighty Pandas – you brought me such joy.
I had no idea.
Most of today I spent on logistics of whether or not to cancel a playoff game because of the weather. I had a glimmer of what Superintendents of schools must go through about when to cancel school for a snow day. It is not fun!
I won’t bore you with all the details – but there were many. The high level is there are many different factions involved in the decision. The final championship game is on Saturday – so our game has to be played either Thu or Fri to determine who is playing in the finals on Saturday.
There were no open fields though on Thu or Fri with all the other playoff games, adult leagues, etc. (Don’t get me started about trying to barter with a high school coach for a field he had reserved for a practice – which I thought should be trumped by a playoff game – to no avail.)
We did have to cancel tonight’s game. The rain stopped but the mucky infield was unplayable. We finally found a new field, found a time, and notified everyone. Then I got word that two of my best players couldn’t make tomorrow’s game. Uggh! We are playing a team that has only lost one game all season (to us!) and to be without two of our stars was a pretty big hole. (We only have 11 on the team.)
I wasn’t going to go down without a fight though. I contacted the families and found out that it was just logistics and not a family event etc., that was going to prevent them from coming. So I’m going to be able to pick them up and get them there so we should have the full roster.
Ahhh. Now all we have to do is play! (And hopefully everyone can find the field that is tucked away through a path at the top of a hill.)
This experience has given me a whole new respect for all the coaches and parent volunteers who were there for me for all those years for girl scouts, religious ed, softball, field hockey, basketball, chorus, community theater, chaperones for school events and more.
So to all the amazing people out there who give of their time – especially for all the “behind the scenes” details that I never knew existed – a long overdue THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU – and Go Pandas!
Pandas win! What a great night.
Although the game didn’t start out that way.
There is something special when you arrive and the field is beautifully manicured and specially prepared for playoffs. One girl said to me, “It’s too bad we have to mess up the field!”
We were up first and our first batter up had a great hit and beat out the throw to cheers – only to be called out. The ump said she threw the bat. I looked and the bat was about a foot from home plate. We asked him about the call. No ump had made a call like that all season. He made a big announcement out on the field, “It’s dangerous behind home plate and if you throw your bat, you’ll be called out.”
We were all a bit stunned. Our next two batters struck out. The top of the order was shut down 1-2-3. This can’t be good.
We took the field and we struck out the side as well. Okay the game is on.
The ump continued to be tough the entire game – calling out more players for “throwing” their bats, not being entirely in the batter box, etc. It was tough especially for the kids who hadn’t had many hits this season, and to get a hit in the playoffs only to be called out on questionable calls.
I tried to set a good example for the girls and not focus on the ump and saying to the girls that these are the playoffs and we’re in the big league – but the other coach and I both couldn’t quite believe his calls.
We found our rhythm though and started to really play well. Getting lots of hits, amazing base running and even making a double play. We ended up winning 9-3.
Our next game is Wednesday and we are playing a team that only lost one game all season (to us!) – so it should be a good game.
I realized that we are the only two women coaches in the entire league! Go Girl Power!
We don’t play with Barbie dolls… we just play with bats and balls.
We don’t wear no mini skirts…we just wear our softball shirts.
We don’t paint our nails bright red…we just play softball instead.
–Disco Panda cheer
Tonight, my softball team, The Disco Pandas, is in the playoffs. I am a first-time coach for my daughter’s 3 & 4th grade softball team. It has been an amazing season.
I was floored the first time I heard the above cheer coming from the dugout. It gave me hope that little girls do indeed want to do more than play with dolls. These girls are awesome. They are kind. They cheer each other on. They are brave. They are tough. They want to win.
My philosophy is that everyone gets to play the infield. I didn’t relegate the 3rd graders to Right Field. Anyone who wanted to try pitching, got to pitch. Star infielders who wanted to be catcher (which basically would take them out of the plays) got to catch.
This sometimes raised some eyebrows among the parents – but it’s about the girls. It’s about building confidence.
My personal highlight was when my daughter asked if she could pitch in the middle of the season, just before the start of a game.
She had never pitched. Had never practiced pitching. I wasn’t sure if she could even reach the plate from the pitcher’s mound. But more than any of that, it was so out of character for her. She’s a worrier. She gets nervous trying anything new. Anytime we asked her if she wanted to try something (basketball, piano, softball) she said, “No.” But we just wanted to help her try new things and see what she liked. We signed her up anyway – and she ended up loving them – after some tearful, resistant beginnings.
So seeing her bright eyes and big smile, asking to pitch, made me well-up. I was so proud of her to be finding her confidence.
I had her throw me a few balls from the sidelines and it looked like she would be able to reach and I said, “Wow – you’re doing great. Sure. You can pitch.”
She walked out to the mound, with her head high, full of optimism. I was petrified for her.
She threw a couple balls (way out of the strike zone) and then her first strike. Very cool. Then she struck out the batter. Then another. The third batter got a hit and her team backed her up and made the play. 1-2-3 inning for Miss Lily.
One of life’s great moments.
There are certain moments in your life that stay with you – turning points. I think this was one of those moments for her. Finding the courage to try something new and going for it. I honestly don’t remember if we won that game or not – but I will never forget her running off the mound with a big smile – and a new sense of confidence. Who knows where this moment will help take her in life? I have noticed a new spring in her step.
When these girls started the season, many didn’t know where Left Field was and had to be reminded not to toss their glove up in the air during the game. They have come a long way. We won 4, tied 4, and lost 2 games. (And we have never lost the After Game Relay Race – which we are quite proud of!) More than anything else, these girls have all improved – both as softball players and more importantly, as people.
It’s single elimination for the playoffs – so tonight could be our last game. But it has been a real joy working with these young girls. I am so proud of my Pandas. Wish us luck!
Video – Disco Pandas Go Jump in a Lake (One EXTREMELY hot afternoon, we were playing an away game and after the game we discovered a lake behind the ball field. We let the girls jump in – in their uniforms! Go Disco Pandas!)
One of the new things I tried during my Year of Action was coaching. Coaching Softball – 9 and 10 year old girls – The Disco Pandas. The experience was amazing and taught me so much. These have been some of my most popular blog posts – enjoy! (HINT: Read in order, starting from the top, to get the full flavor of the season.)