That Time of the Month

I’ve begun writing a monthly column for the local newspaper here at Stratton on women in athletics. This week marked my first publication and it was pretty fun to have a real byline (kind of like seeing your name in lights…except not flashing, or bright…more greyish and at the bottom of a page..). Because it is a monthly women’s issues column, I originally wanted to name it “That Time of the Month,” but the small town paper preferred the name “Getting Girled” (to be beaten by a girl).

It doesn’t matter what the title is (especially since I’ve found a way to double source it and use both…mwuahaha), I’m just excited to be writing about something so close to me.

Copied below is my column, if you can also read it from the Manchester Journal (you know, to see my name in lights).

   I ran track in high school. I was a miler. A runner from the Pacific Northwest, where Steve Prefontaine’s legacy surges through the veins of every athlete that steps foot on a track, I made it my goal to conquer the 1600. My coaches always told me to focus on the third lap. Far enough from the start to feel adrenaline drop yet a fair distance from the finishing sprint, the third lap presents a mental barrier few athletes regularly overcome.

   Time warps. Distance stretches. As heart rates rise, confidences fade. While weary runners lose themselves in the third lap, the greatest athletes discover strength. These athletes–those who fear neither distance nor time, proactively facing the challenges ahead of them–these are the champions. They earn their right cross the finish line.

   As an athlete and a feminist, I feel that the women’s movement is in the third lap of a mile race. As a society we have come so far since our endorphin-filled start, yet weariness seems to skew our perception of just how much farther we have to go. Particularly in athletics, where the effectiveness, relevance and necessity of Title IX continue to be contested, it appears many competitors are dropping out of the race.

   Thus I introduce my new column in the Manchester Journal. Each month, I will investigate and report on women’s issues with respect to athletics. As a professional skier for the Stratton Mountain School T2 team and long time soccer player, runner and overall sports enthusiast, I place myself in the center of the political athletic arena and hope to provide a worthy report as such.

    My articles will discuss anything from the local athletes and programs like Girls on the Run, to regional and national debates, to international advancements. With the Olympics just around the corner and the current pace of the women’s movement, I should not be short of material.

   In 1972, a clause of an Education Amendment revolutionized what it meant to be a female athlete in America. That “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance” meant that women no longer needed to have bake sales in order to fund their athletics.

   According to the Women’s Sport Foundation’s (WSF) “2012 Title Nine Report,” in 1972, fewer than 30,000 women participated in collegiate athletics. Today, that number exceeds 190,000. Such growth has inspired positive effects as research shows that girls who participate in high school sports are more likely to graduate, matriculate in college and receive higher grades and test scores than non-athletes.

   However, the battle for equality is not over. American culture and media continue to sell female athletes short, affording few women the opportunity to pursue athletics to the extent of their male peers. Additionally, the WSF notes that Division I college athletic departments distribute about 40% of scholarships to women, despite having a 53% female student body.

   Most of all, I hope that my writing can inspire a conversation to continue to progress a mission for equality. If there is anything I hope to prove, it is that we have the training, the strength, and the history to make it to the finish line, we just have to make it through the third lap.

Feel inspired yet?

In the spirit of female athletics, check out the nominees for the Women’s Sports Foundation’s sportswomen of the year.

-AP

One thought on “That Time of the Month

  1. As a woman who ran with the Penn State men’s XC team until after graduation in *1974* (and before women and graduate students could compete) it is so inspiring to see that other women will be encouraged, rather than discouraged, from achieving their potentials in endurance sports. It did seem that only where a father encouraged his daughter to run fast and far, that women felt empowered. Unfortunately, many of the early long distance female competitors ran with their less than competitive “coaches” also known as boyfriends. When the woman stopped winning, the boyfriend also seemed to rather frequently disappear. Thank goodness most modern males are far more enlightened about the benefits of female success than those who used to move their attention from one (earlier successful) young woman to the latest successful young woman!

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