This post is part of the National Women's Law Center blog carnival: Rally for Girls' Sports Day 2010.
It’s safe to say I would not be who I am today without basketball. I’ve told this story a hundred times, but I’ll say it again: I’ll never forget the day when I – a completely insecure and overgrown 3rd grader – was asked to play basketball at recess with the 6th graders. It wasn’t out of the kindness of their hearts, it was pure logistics. I was taller than most of them, and they needed six people to play 3-on-3.
From that time forward it was part of my identity. Basketball was my saving grace. It gave purpose to my age-inappropriate height and weight. On the court, I was valuable, powerful, unique, strong. Funny thing is, I wasn’t particularly talented. But I worked really hard, and had this major physical advantage, which made me fairly successful through middle & high school.
In addition to all of this, I was in the middle of four children in my family. My success in basketball gave me the attention I craved at home as well. All of them were talented musicians, and although I wish I had stuck it out in high school band, it wasn’t really my thing.
Every young girl, especially in this country, suffers greatly while developing her own relationship to her body. Knowing that there were people like my teammates and coaches who put stock in having a nearly-6-foot-tall 13-year-old in their camp helped me stand up straight – literally. I constantly see young women who display their insecurity through slouching, trying to bring themselves down to a “normal” height. I stood up straight, had a great group of friends, and am exceedingly proud to this day that I was a student-athlete.
Just imagine if we could find one thing for every 10-year-old girl that made her feel valuable, powerful, unique, and strong. The world would be a different place.