I am an ex-athlete, not of Olympic status or State Champion prominence but, I’ve played a few games in my time. I even coached summer camp at UConn back in the Rebecca Lobo days (Oops! Did you see me drop that name, this is what ex-athletes who never made it do).
I’ve played enough to know what it feels like to win and to lose.
While watching the Fifa Women’s World Cup today a few things occurred to me:
20 years ago I watched a girl named Jami (not me) play soccer on Justin’s high school team. She played on the boy’s soccer team not because she was one tough cookie — she was — but because my high school didn’t have a team for girls. (Shocking, I know.)
12 years ago I watched a girl named Mia and Brandi and Julie dominate the World Cup for the United States. One of these girls even took her shirt off in excitement and sported her sports bra with sheer triumph … I bet you can picture it in your head right now.
8 hours ago I watched the U.S. Women’s team lose to Japan in a heartbreaking penalty kick shootout.
All I could think about was how it felt like a win — not a loss.
Back in 1999: I felt it was my duty (as a recently minted women’s studies major with a focus in women’s sports) to educate the world on the value of women and girls playing sports. Well, at the very least educate all the men I knew.
Today: I was surrounded by families with their grown daughters, women with their friends, and the hallmark of it all, men drinking beer, all rapt watching women play soccer on television.
Back in 1999: It felt like the world was discovering the thrill of women’s soccer.
Today: It felt like the world was remembering women’s soccer: Remember when Brandi took her shirt off? Remember when Mia was a household name? Remember when Julie was playing on the field not commentating on the sidelines?
I thought a lot about Discovering vs. Remembering today.
It’s a great thing to discover, to lead, to break-through.
But it’s also a great joy to remember, to recall the good old days, the players of the past, when they were there, when we were young.
They both have their place in our lives and in history.
Just as I know right now I am in the discovery stage with this little promise of mine to take care of my head, heart, body & soul. Some day, like 167 days from now, I will look back and remember, recall, rejoice.
Because there will be time and perspective.
A recipe for reflection.
So, you see, I don’t view it as a loss for our U.S. team (of course it still stings and it downright sucks).
Instead, I see it as a win.
We’ve made it to the other side.
The side where we have good old days and we have heroes from the past, who are women — and athletes.
And more than anything I know, there will be another game, another day, another chance. For women everywhere.
And to that I scream from the rafters: GOOOOAL!