SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch Fall 2014 Personal Memory Ethnographies
A Girl at Bat
Growing up, I wanted to be just like my brother. He was active in sports and was not scared to try new things; I envied him. I asked my parents if I could play sports on an all boys baseball team and they both agreed eagerly. Unbeknownst to me, I would never be picked to bat or play in the field. The coach told my parents that “she is not as capable as the boys and she should sit in the dugout cheering on her teammates”. I when I found out about this it infuriated me so much that I was determined to prove the coach wrong. After the game, I told my parents what the coach said and my father was determined to prove the coach wrong too.
We practiced every day before the game and for four hours on Sundays in the hot California spring weather. Practicing with my father gave me the confidence I needed to prove my coach wrong. I knew women played professional sports and my favorite was Serena Williams. She always did her best despite the discrimination she faced. Did my coach not want to be responsible for my achievement and hard work? Was he afraid that I would go pro? I knew that he was influenced by my teammate’s parents, so I knew that was one contributing factor; I was curious to know what the other factors were. I never understood why my coach was not willing to let me play when all of these women in sports were being glorified on TV. I was seven and all I wanted to do was play sports for fun. I did not want to go pro; I just wanted to play baseball!!
Having been raised in a gender specific environment shaped my goals as a coach and outlook on sports. Lyndsey joining an all-boys team was unheard of and greatly frowned upon. To please her parents, I let her on the team but never wanted her to play. However, she soon shattered my shallow mindset
One day as my coach was calling the batting order, I grabbed my bat and went straight to the field without his permission. I looked back and saw my father giving me a thumbs up and I knew that he was proud of what I have done. I was going to prove my coach wrong whether it was the right way or not.
I was annoyed that Lyndsey stepped up to the plate to bat without my authority. I did not want her to upset the other parents. But I could see the point she was trying to make and I did not want to upset a young child. That would be mean as a man and as a father. I did not want her teammates to think I was cruel. The boys knew that having a girl on an all-boys team was already out of the ordinary and I could tell that they felt uncomfortable, but I could not justify kicking her off the team. I did not want to upset her parents or get the reputation of an unfair coach. Before I knew it, that girl grabbed a bat and stomped her way onto the batter’s mound.
As I got to bat I could only see the loaded bases and the pitcher getting ready to throw the ball. It felt as if time was suspended and all other outside noises and scenery had vanished. I was so nervous that I would miss the ball and prove the coach right that “sports are not for girls”. I was not willing to let all my hard work and determination be destroyed by his one comment. I did prove him wrong and I hit the ball on the second pitch and made it all the way to third base in one run. After arriving on second base, I could see that my coach and father were approving because they were both screaming my name. The sound of the bat hitting the ball with a ring to it made my hands sting but it was worth it because I had accomplished something a lot of people thought I could not do; I proved them wrong.
Lyndsey missed the ball but on that second swing she hit it. I could see how happy she was. At first, she did not move, probably because she was so excited. I had to remind her to run! My views changed about her dramatically. She was so excited when she came back into the dugout and saw how happy those boys were to see her as a teammate rather than a girl on an all-boys team. I was determined to show everyone that a girl CAN play baseball as well as a boy. It depends on practice and determination, and those two things is what got me to second base.
My parents have always told me that girls were just as good as boys when playing sports and I really believed that. In my seven year old mind, girls could do anything boys could do. I know I was smaller than all of my teammates but that made me more determined and I did not see why my size should stop me. In 1995, women were making an impact on sports all around the United States. In 1996, The National Basketball Association Board of Governors’ approves the concept of a woman’s National Basketball Association to begin play in 1997. Women were becoming the center of attention in sports although even many women disagreed with women playing sports-even women! A lot of these women rebelled against the societal norms of “womanhood” and made a name for themselves. Manon Rheaume was the first woman to start in the National Hockey League in an exhibition game for Tampa Bay Lightning as the only women in and all-men’s sport.
Twenty years later, as an adult, I still see gender directed sports and non-coed teams. No individual should be judged or discriminated against because of their gender even in sports. Times are changing in gender differences but it seems that we still have a long way to go.
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