Dear Daughter, Women In Sports Are Amazing
This last week was a thrilling one for our home. I grew up playing soccer and had a brief stint in competitive gymnastics. My daughter just started her first preschool gym class, and I can already see the impact it has had on her confidence, control of her body, and overall love of movement. We have also been able to watch the Women’s World Cup together and cheer on our favorite teams.
I love being able to share my love of sports with her. Even better, I love that she has many examples of women in sports to look up to and admire, specifically in sports that I love.
U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
The FIFA Women’s World Cup took place this summer with a big goal for the USWNT: win a third title. This has never been done, ever. The team came into the tournament with a number of veterans, but also a number of young girls. The youngest player of the tournament was 18 and the oldest 38. It was not long ago when there were hardly any women in professional sports. Now, there are women spanning two DECADES on the same team. The women endured so much pressure, scrutiny, and criticism on their performance at the tournament, and to be fair, the team didn’t have their best performance. The lesson I took away and could share with my daughter: it’s okay to lose.
Megan Rapinoe ran into her mom’s arms at the end of the game. Alex Morgan ran to her daughter. These veterans could hold their head high, because they worked hard for many, many years, and this loss does not define them.
The rookies have this moment as a learning opportunity early in their career. Experience is our best teacher, and humility is the lesson we all can learn.
Do I need to put a goat emoji here? It’s no secret Simone Biles is one of the best gymnasts in the sport’s history, and one of the world’s greatest athletes. At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Simone pulled out of the competition due to the “twisties,” a mental block that causes gymnasts to lose control of their bodies when in the air. When you’re flying as high as Simone Biles, this is extremely dangerous. Set to win it all (by a landslide), Simone self-eliminated and encouraged her team from the sideline.
Now, as a married, 26- year old (which is considered nearly elderly in gymnastics), Simone has entered into competition again. And not only enter, but win. Simone’s tenacity, humility, and work ethic are examples of what I want my daughter to emulate. Winning is all fine and good, but the athletes I admire most have these qualities.
More than a game
I have been involved in some kind of sport up until my first pregnancy. Though my time in each sport varied in length, they each taught me something different. My main takeaway, though, is the value of hard work.
My daughter stands in our living room day after day doing countless handstands. As many oldest, type-A girls are, she wanted each one to be executed perfectly. After each tumble or imperfect try, I could see her frustration. It opened the door to have a conversation that was bigger than just a handstand attempt.
“The only way to get better is to keep practicing.”
“It’s okay to take a break when you’re frustrated and come back and try again.”
“Celebrate how much better you are getting.”
“Don’t worry about messing up. Just get up and try again.”
“No one will be mad at you for messing up, just try your best.”
These nuggets of wisdom will go far beyond the gymnastics floor, but the sport opened the door to have the conversation.
Women in sports are amazing. Girls in sports should see these women as an example of what hard work and humility looks like, and those lessons will be the foundation of their character and extend far beyond the sport itself.