Growing up with two brothers, it wasn’t surprising to my mother when she would look out of the small kitchen window overlooking the backyard, only to find 4-year-old me in a pink tutu playing football with the boys in the mud.
Pretty soon, there were fewer dance rehearsals in tutus and more soccer practices in mud-stained jerseys occupying my time.
When, in 8th grade, the other girls were worried about what color their nails were painted, I was worried about what color my next pair of cleats was going to be.
Flash forward to senior year, when the rest of the class was worried about parties and who was dating who, I was worried about what college field I was going to make my mark on next. I gave up a life of popularity to pursue a life of athleticism that I loved.
Today’s society loves to put down female athletes. Do you know how many times I was compared to a boy and told I would never be as good as them anyway - so why bother? I will give you this - generally, women’s sports contests are not as fast paced as men’s. Well - duh. Males were genetically born to be faster and stronger than women. So, let me ask you this: why aren’t we more impressed with women who excel on the athletic field? If we weren’t naturally made to be athletic, isn’t it more impressive when we can tear it up out there?
Let me tell you this: I certainly was not made to be the dainty female who plants a garden, sips matcha tea, and wears a size two. I used to pray that I would turn into that girl while staring at my muscular thighs and broad shoulders, and then I looked back on all of my athletic experiences in my life and stifled those thoughts.
Here's why I will NEVER apologize for being a female athlete:
1. I'm NOT afraid of failure
Nothing has taught me to get back up and learn from my mistakes like sports have. Miss a shot? Oh well, keep shooting. Get beat by that girl? Dig deep and get her next time. Lose the championship? Train that much harder in the off-season and let next year be your year.
2. I've gained CONFIDENCE
Surprising to most, I used to have negative confidence. I mean zip. Zero. Nothing in the bag. My coaches would hound me for it, helping me focus on the good plays I made, rather than dwelling on the mistakes. This has helped me in life, too - no one remembers your mistakes if you glide by them with confidence. Plus, training to excel in something you love and watching your hard work pay off is the most rewarding feeling in the world.
3. I am STRONG
I’m pretty sure I popped out of the womb with thunder thighs, but they helped me gain a spot on a division one soccer team, so I’m not complaining. My body will never be dainty, but I’m coming to accept that. I am strong, I can hold my own, and one day I’ll be strong enough to carry children. That’s pretty rad.
4. I'm eager to GRIND
No matter what task I’m given, I give it my all - and more. This has become more natural for me from playing sports. If work gives me a challenge, I’m the first to step up to the plate and tackle it head-on. My competitive nature is evident in my everyday life and it has helped me excel in multiple areas. Always looking to better myself and put in as much work as needed to do so has only been beneficial.
I am proud of the countless hours of practices, miles traveled to games, and the blood, sweat, and tears poured into my passion for multiple sports over the years. They have helped teach me life’s most important lessons, and they’ve shaped me into the strong, confident, determined young lady I am today.
So, next time you tell someone they play like a girl - I hope they smile, and take it as the best compliment you could give them.