It has been brought to my attention that today is National Women in Sports Day, and so I decided to dig into my old draft emails and resurrect a message I crafted in the middle of our fall season. I never sent this out for a number of reasons, but today is a day to celebrate women sports. In addition, the recent tragedy with Kobe Bryant has had me thinking about not just his legacy but the disruption to what he could have done for women's basketball. It has brought the term #GirlDad into our lexicon, and I thought of what I wrote back in the fall.
Written in October of 2019:
I'd like to take a moment to write about something I've been thinking about a lot.
As a youth sport that is predominantly female - this year AFH is all girls - field hockey has seen a tremendous amount of support from dads. I think people often assume a female sport must have mom coaches or former female players. It's not the case across the board, but it's common for men to coach men and women to coach women. This year, I am grateful for all the parents who have volunteered. Of course moms, women, former field hockey players are invaluable, but it is also a joy to see the dads out on the Arlington fields with their daughters.
What I didn't expect when starting this league was how many dad-coaches and how many dad-fans would step up. All but one of the AFH dad-coaches are learning this sport for the first time and doing a wonderful job. In the summer, many fathers were the first to reach out looking to sign their daughter up for field hockey. Before 2019, many fathers were the first to suggest starting this league. Two or three years ago, Hal Sinton coached and brought me in to his team. It was Hal that really was the catalyst for Arlington Field Hockey. A dad. A non-field-hockey-playing dad, who loved his daughter.
When I went to college (1995-1999) and would trade stories with other female athletes, many of these young women had fathers with zero interest in their sport. They didn't attend games and definitely did not coach. Of course, plenty of my co-athletes had supportive dads, but the difference here is that it wasn't odd for a father to be uninterested in their daughter's sport. No one was shocked by it. I was one of the few who was surprised. As an adult, I realize what a gift that was from my own dad and my own community (Tunkhannock, PA). It was a unique childhood where my female friends and I played and were treated with equal respect and excitement as the male athletes. I didn't realize that having a dad who wouldn't have missed one of my games any sooner than he would have missed my brother's was unusual. Or that our high school bussing kids out of school - early - to cheer at our District Field Hockey game did not happen everywhere.
I think times have changed. That "uninterested dad" from my past would be the odd one these days. My husband coaches our daughters, cheers for them, plays all the sports they want to play (at the expense of our living room floors.) I feel this is indicative of many of the families in Arlington. (Indicative of the full support of girls, not the ruining of the floors.) Our daughters are lucky to live here amongst that mentality or maybe not. Maybe this is the norm. That's a wonderful thing.
However, you can't run a league of 140 girls and not think about the overall culture of female sports. Plenty still needs to change, but I'm not writing this to seek attention for what's wrong. I'm trying to shine a light on the little hints in our daily lives that are lifting girls up.
Equality in sports isn't just about the opportunity to play or the money that's paid. It's also about the equal encouragement and excitement that washes over you, day-by-day, as an athlete. To know your parent wants to stand in the rain and watch your game just as they would your brother is to know that you are just as important. It's not an overt movement, but a simple gesture that let's them know you're there.
So, keep being there, Dads, and thank you.
See you on the field.
Arlington Field Hockey
Three teams accomplished their first wins this past weekend. The Pita Chips (7th/8th grade team) The Warriors (5th/6th), and The Wolves (3rd/4th). Congratulations to the players who have worked so hard. Thank you to the coaches who are donating time and energy to help make this happen. The Pita Chips are shown here with some well-deserved smiles. Great Job, Ladies!!!
This past weekend, AFH completed our first weekend of games, and it was a tremendous success! Huge thanks to Yorktown Field Hockey who came out AGAIN to set up our fields and help our coaches run the games. Please continue to show them any support you can. They deserve it.
All ran smoothly, and no matter if it was a 3rd grader out on the field for the first time, or an 8th grader playing for AFH, after finishing her JV HS game, it was field hockey. Field Hockey in Arlington! And it all began with our first Golden Ball, awarded to the player scoring the first goal in the team's first game in the first year of AFH. The first Golden Ball was earned by 34Team Black, Callie Kaplan.