4 Things I Learned Growing Up Playing Sports With Boys

4 Things I Learned Growing Up Playing Sports With Boys

Playing two different sports throughout my life with mostly guys has been both scary and rewarding.

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Recently, I joined a taekwondo class at the local YMCA. It wasn't quite as daunting as some may think. My taekwondo career began about seven years ago, and this school is associated with my school back home. It was familiar to me, almost like I was still taking classes back home. The most familiar thing is that I'm still one of the only females in the class. While I was never the only female in taekwondo class back home, no other girls or women stuck around in class during the seven years.

Taekwondo isn't the first male-dominated sport that I've participated in. Being an athlete has been part of my identity since the age of 6. My love for sports started when my dad introduced me to the Seattle Mariners. I played Little League baseball for five years and I was the only girl for four of those years. While I was never in the top of the batting lineup or played the coolest positions, I still had a successful baseball career.

Comparing these two sports has never been something that I've thought deeply about until I joined the new taekwondo class. It makes sense to do so since they've both played significant roles in my life.

Here are four things that I've experienced while participating in male-dominated sports.

1. I've been told to do "girl pushups" too many times.

I experienced this mostly while playing baseball. No one ever tried to stop me from playing baseball, but there were times where I was singled out and told to "adjust" the workout because they attributed my struggle to the fact that I'm a girl.

2. People have been surprised at my capabilities.

There have been multiple instances where I made a play or scored a point while sparing a guy. How I made the play or scored always seemed routine to me, but I've had people come up to me and were stunned at what they just saw me, a girl, do. In my more recent memory, I was sparing a guy for our belt test. I scored on him with a spinning hook kick, which was routine for me. He gasped in shock. After the test, the same guy came up to me and said, "That kick was amazing!" and shook my hand. It wasn't until my instructor pointed out to me that he probably hasn't spared very many women at a brown belt level that I realized that he was genuinely shocked.

3. Personal doubt is chronic.

I'm aware that I shouldn't compare myself to others, but the fact that I'm surrounded by mostly guys is really daunting. Using gender to fuel my doubt is such a cop out, but it's a reality I'm sure that other females experience, both in sports and in the real world. Even though I've proven to myself multiple times that I have the capability to compete against guys, the stereotypes still get to me after all this time.

4. Many people want to see me succeed.

I've been blessed with having supportive coaches and instructors. They've been sympathetic to the fact that it's hard to be different and that it's not easy having to represent other females in the sport. One of the reasons why I was able to play baseball for so long and continue to push towards getting my black belt in taekwondo is the fact that my coaches and instructors were always there to help improve my technique and make me stronger.

I'm glad that I experienced and continue to experience participating in male-dominated sports. It's taught me to be strong and to not give up if my opponent has certain advantages over me. I encourage other women and girls to participate in male-dominated sports. It's not easy but rewarding when you succeed.

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I'm A Christian Girl And I'm Not A Feminist, Because God Did Not Intend For Women To Be Equals

It is OK for me to not want to be equivalent with a man.

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To start off, I am not writing this to bash feminists or get hate messages. I am simply writing this to state why I do not perceive myself as a feminist.

March is International Women's Month and that is what has got me thinking about how I view myself as a young woman in the 21st century. I enjoy every day getting to soak up the world as a young lady, particularly in the South.

If you know me, then you know that I love and utterly adore Jesus. He is so perfect. He is everything. He is my whole life. Some people might say that I am a "Bible-thumper" or someone who has had too much Kool-aid and maybe I am, but I know who my Creator is and that He died for me, and that is all that matters.

In my young age, I loved to just sit in church with my parents and absorb all that God would deliver. As I have grown up, I have ventured off and joined a church that is different than my parents, so the responsibility falls more on me, but I love that. Since this era of independence began, I have thoroughly enjoyed taking ownership of my faith.

I spend a lot of time chatting with God, worshipping Him in all kinds of ways, and just diving deeper into His Word. Through all of this growth as a Christian, I have learned a lot, but something I have learned is a concept that some may not agree with, which does not surprise me.

I do not believe God meant for women and men to be equal.

There, I acknowledged the elephant in the room.

It is a shocker, I know, but I have some Biblical evidence to back up this belief that I have.

Let us begin in Genesis. God created man and then he created woman. This was two separate occurrences and order is key. He created Adam and then Eve.

Jesus treated women with grace and kindness, do not get me wrong. I mean just look at how He treated the woman at the well, the one who used all of her expensive perfume to cleanse His feet and not to mention His own biological mother! He has a truly unique place in his heart for women, but He also has special intentions for us in the world and in the family setting.

We are to submit to our husbands.

We are to be energetic, strong, and a hard worker.

We are to be busy and helpful to those in need.

We are to be fearless.

All of this is explicitly laid out by God in Proverbs 31.

We are not to be equal to our male counterparts. Jesus does not lay out the Proverbs 31 man, but He rather lays out the Proverbs 31 woman.

A husband or man is to be the head of the household as Christ is to the church.

A man is to love a woman so deeply that represents how he loves himself.

A man is to leave his father and mother.

Women and men are not equal in God's eyes, but they each represent Him in their own ways that the other needs.

If we were all equal, we would not need one another and therefore we would not need God. I am so thankful that we were not created equal. I am so thankful that God is so great that He could not just create only man or woman to represent His image. He is so perfect.

So, you see I am not a feminist, and it is OK.

It is acceptable for me to have this belief that God intended for men to lead women. It is also okay for people to have differing opinions. Writing this was not easy, but I know that not all people agree.

To feminists and those that are not, you are allowed to believe whatever you wish but have evidence to back it up.

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It's Been A Year And I Still Miss It

The memories with my teammates and coaches are remembered everyday.

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Never thought I'd say it but here I am. I am happy to say I am proud to be where I am today but the thoughts of never playing a sport again linger in my mind. Those emotions of anticipation and excitement when it comes to playing a sport are long gone. Sad to say I will never have butterflies before running a race, floor burns all over my knees and sweat mixed with softball dirt all over me.

The little aspects that I took for granted are what I remember the most. I am who I am today because of my coaches and teammates. Each and every sport came with a support system to fall back on and friendships that would last a lifetime. My coaches and teammates taught me life long skills that I will carry with me forever. They taught me the true meaning of dedication, teamwork, perseverance and respect. Yes, I love the game but the connections and memories I have built have impacted me. Especially, the times I have created with my teammates and coaches on the bus rides, practices and game days.

Those are the moments I will never get back. I will never forget the times my volleyball teammates and I would run over to Perkins after a win. We would eat junkie, greasy food till our tummies were full but during those moments we were all owning the moment while being young and careless. Even during track season my teammates and I found time to have fun while running rigorous workouts. I will never forget the mid-dance parties during track meets to keep our mind off of the stress of performing to our best ability. Softball season always seemed to be on the road, which meant plenty of bus rides with my teammates. Those hours of traveling were the best from the never have I ever games to singing along to great hits.

I will never get the chance again to compete in front of a crowd. The cheers and the roars of the fans is such a surreal feeling. Running on the blue oval was something I will never forget. As much as I hated the queasy, uneasy feelings before running, I would go back for it one more time. Stepping foot on the blue oval meant a great athlete once took those same steps I did. The moment my teammates, coaches and I clinched the win to go to State for the first time in school history was unbelievable. It was an accomplishment for us seniors, for our coaches, for our families and fans, for our school and for the past softball players. We did something that was never done before in school history and all I can say is I'm proud to have done it with the group of girls that I did.

Getting to state and playing with the best of the best is remarkable but what seemed to be even better was getting a victory against a city rival. Everyone came out for those games from grandparents to students to alumni. Our best performances were amongst us when competing against city rivals. Particularly, through volleyball, my teammates and I seemed to be hungrier for a win whenever it was a city rival. I guess, the best moments happened when we beat a cross-town rival. You could say we got bragging rights for the year.

To all the athletes out there competing in their last game, last match or last race, relish in those last seconds because before you know it you will never pick up a ball again, race in a relay or dance after a victory.

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