With recent research showing over 100,000 girls playing ‘traditional’ male sports (including football, hockey and wrestling), the instances of residual ‘culture shock’ seems to be waning. What once created problems for athletics organizations, coaches and parents is now becoming regarded as status quo – as it should be.
Although baseball player Jackie Mitchell is not as recognized in the sports world as she should be, Mitchell was an admired baseball player who has become a pioneer for women in sports.
In 1931, when she occupied a roster spot for the Class AA minor league Chattanooga Lookouts, a feat enviable of many a major league pitcher. In an exhibition game, she recorded consecutive strikeouts against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The southpaw hurler caught Ruth ‘looking’ for a called third strike and followed the feat with whiffing Gehrig as he missed on three straight swings.
A more familiar name is Babe Didrickson Zaharias, a multi-sport athlete three (two gold, one silver) Olympic medals in track and field. She was also an All-American in basketball. Zaharias became the first woman golfer to play in PGA tournaments, actually making the cut several times in the 1940s.
In 2003, Katie Hnida became the first woman to score points in NCAA Division I football. Hnida kicked two extra points for the University of New Mexico. Hnida was not the first woman participant in college football, though. In 2001, kicker Ashley Martin was on the roster of Jacksonville State.
‘Girl on the Team’ & Coaching
As a coach it is important to be pro-active and encouraging of female athletes. They should be treated no differently and should be given the same responsibilities as the boys. As a coach, you have to keep an eye on the team and make sure there is no bullying, or unfairness among team members. Be open to your team and listen to any problems or concerns they may have. Also, don’t forget about the parents, make sure to be open and available to speak with them, in the end they want the best for their kids!
Why a Girl Wants to Play?
Girls have the same drive as boys to play sports. What if a girl wants to play baseball instead of girl’s softball? Why not? There is no real reason why girls should stick to softball and boys to baseball. Girls also want the extra competition and challenge. Although it is true that sometimes boys want to play around with boys, and girls want to play with girls. In sports, it should never be assumed that girls want to play a different game. A team should value all its members equally, and encourage them regardless of their gender.
Mom & Dad
A daughter wanting to participate in ‘contact’ sports (football or hockey, e.g.) may create quite an interesting discussion at the dinner table. Moms and Dads need to listen to a daughter’s reason for wanting to play such sports. The worries are no different than for parents of boys wanting to wear a pair of shoulder pads and a helmet. Obviously, the well-being of children is the most important but ‘being a girl’ should not be a decision-maker. Parents should encourage their daughter to play they sport they like and should always be a supportive.