Close your eyes. Envision yourself ten, twenty years from now. When you wake up every morning, and see yourself hustling off to work, what career have you embraced? Are you a firefighter, always prepared to come to the rescue? Or a doctor, busy saving peoples lives? Or maybe a lawyer, willing to stand up for what is right in the court room?
These are all options for you. In fact, I envisioned myself as all of those things at various points growing up.
But you should know that unfortunately, there were roles I had a hard time imagining myself taking on, and many of them were in sports related positions. Besides there being no women physically on the field in male dominated sports as players, there also were no women acting as coaches, or referees. It was obvious that the games I loved to watch still belonged to the boys.
Slowly, but surely, in recent years, it makes me proud to say that this has started to change. I will never forget watching Sarah Thomas walk out onto the field at University of Phoenix Stadium as the first full-time NFL female official. Or seeing the ESPN alert come across my phone informing me that Kathryn Smith had been hired as the first female coach in NFL history when she was named the Quality Control/Special Teams coach of the Buffalo Bills. And I would be remiss not to mention Becky Hammon, of the San Antonio Spurs, who was the first full-time salaried female coach in NBA history.
This weekend, I was lucky enough to experience a woman making history in sports, first hand. United States Olympic gold-metal athlete, Jennie Finch, was invited to manage the Bridgeport Bluefish baseball team during their Sunday afternoon game. This was to be no typical managing experience, as it would be the first time a woman would ever lead a professional baseball team.
Watching Jennie on the field at Harbor Yard as the players warmed up, seeing her throw out the first pitch, and witnessing her give signs as the 3rd base coach, were all fascinating components to the day. However, the words she spoke to the crowd left the most profound impression on me. While she touched on how thankful she was to be able to participate in the game, what she said about the future of women in sports resonated. “My 3-year-old girl is going to grow up dreaming that she can be anything, that there are no barriers,” she said, beaming. As I let the words settle, shivers ran through my body. The feeling of progress was palpable.
In that moment, Jennie recognized and announced the fact that you can grow up aspiring to be anything, and you can see those dreams come to fruition. Of course, it won’t come without its challenges, and lots of perseverance will be required. But if you’d like to add baseball manager to your firefighter/doctor/lawyer list, I am delighted to say that there is no time like the present to do so.
A Hopeful Mom