Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am woman, hear me roar

We girls have incredible bodies. We can run, swim, race, hurdle, climb mountains, swing between uneven parallel bars, and carve snow with the best of them. But, for me, the most amazing thing our bodies can do is give birth. It's raw and real and hard, but extremely rewarding, work. Our bodies change and grow, often in exciting proportions, and then, through all kinds of different methods (from scheduled caesarean sections, to medicated hospital births, to birth centers, and natural birth in our own homes), we deliver this baby we were able to grow and nourish inside ourselves.

To quote Jim Gaffigan, one of my favorite comedians, "Truly, women are amazing. Think about it this way: a woman can grow a baby inside her body. Then a woman can deliver the baby through her body. Then, by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body."

Doesn't that make us sound pretty dang incredible? Never, have I felt more powerful and more in touch with the person that I can be than when I'm in labor and then holding my newborn child.

In a society that often causes us to question our bodies and our abilities, midwife Ina Nay Gaskin inspires me to believe in myself and the power of women. A few of my favorite quotes are below:

We are not lemons. Just as we can train to run that 10K or even to swim the English Channel, we can train do this birthing thing.

Me after having baby number five this September.

What's your favorite thing we, as girls, can do?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Playing with the Boys - Guest Post By Ellie and Karina

My guests this week are Ellie and Karina. Ellie and Karina play soccer with their town's U10 girls travel team. They also are often the only girls in their grade playing soccer with the boys at recess. They have written a story they would like to share with you called Girls Do Sports Too.

Girls Do Sports Too!
by Ellie and Karina

Have you ever been told by a boy that girls play sports weaker than boys? That is NOT true! Our names are Karina and Ellie, and we are going to tell you why that is wrong.
On the first day of school in 3rd grade we walked into school together. We met our teacher, had writing class, and then had recess.
At recess, we decided to play soccer being the only girls there. As we approached the soccer field, one boy came up to us and said, “Girls can’t play, they're horrible at sports. Go away.” 
“Why not?” we asked the boys. 
The boys answered, “Because they’re slow, not strong, and not athletic.”
“We’ll prove you wrong by showing you a soccer game.”
"Deal!” said the boys. “The best two boys have to play Ellie and Karina.  We’ll play you tomorrow at lunch recess.”
The next morning we walked into school and saw the boys sitting on a bench. “Hey girls be prepared to get crushed at soccer!” The boys laughed.
We nodded to each other, “Ya right.” We had gym, writing, then lunch and recess. At gym we practiced soccer and that was helpful.
After two hours it was time to get the game started. It was the two of us playing two other boys.
We started with the ball. We passed the ball back and forth, then the boys took the ball away from us. They almost scored a goal, but Ellie defended it.
She passed to me and I was zooming up the field while she followed me. I gave a big kick .... and I scored!!
Nice goal,” Ellie told me as she gave me a high five.
The boys started out with the ball, since we scored the awesome goal. They started dribbling up the field but my foot touched the ball and it went out. The boys had the throw in. 
“Sorry Karina,” Ellie shouted to me. Ellie thought to herself that the boys must have have a far throw in, so she moved back. The boys threw the ball quickly but instead she trapped it. 
Suddenly Ellie started sprinting up the field the boys started coming. The boys were coming right for me and she saw Karina wide open so she passed to her. Our teacher yelled “Two minutes.” Karina was about to score a goal but then the whistle blew. “Nice try,” Karina told them. 
“Ouch, bad loss,” screamed the boys watching the game. 
We did it! We proved the boys wrong. Girls are as equal as boys.
The lesson in this story is to always have courage that you can beat the boys. Also that boys are not better than girls at sports.

What do you love about playing soccer?
Karina and Ellie: We love playing soccer because it’s a fun experience and a good exercise

Why do you think more girls don't play sports at recess?
Karina and Ellie: They are embarrassed that they might lose or mess up against the boys. Also because they think boys are better and they don't have the courage.

Is there anything that the school or teachers could do to get more girls to play?
Karina and Ellie:  Probably no, but the teachers could always make sure the boys don’t say no when girls ask to play.

What else do you love to do?
Karina and Ellie: We love sports! We also love to cook, go outside, paint, and play with friends.

What advice would you give a girl who wants to play with the boys at recess?
DO IT!!!!!!! don’t be afraid and have courage

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Discover Your Inner Athlete: A Girl Scout Program

On Saturday, October 25, I had the opportunity to attend an Adult Learning Conference sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. The theme for the day was Discover Your Inner Athlete: Lessons in Courage, Confidence, and Character. 

So you know I was excited about the opportunity!

As one of the adult volunteers for a 6th grade Cadette Troop, I’m always looking for things to try with my girls. I was excited for the opportunity to explore ways to bring the athletes and non-athletes in my troop together.

The keynote speaker for the day was Whitney Post, whose athletic achievements include 4-time member of the US Women’s National Rowing Team and alternate for the US Olympic team (2000), lightweight double—among others. Her list of amazing achievements is here: http://lifealivecoaching.org/about-me/
Because it seems like so many kids I know have been playing a sport since pre-school, it was refreshing to hear that Whitney didn’t start rowing until College. Her non-sports achievements include co-founding a number of organizations, including The Body Self and Eating for Life Alliance. She’s also the Director of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo! Boston.
Whitney’s keynote talk was titled “The Top Ten Things to Appreciate about Being a Female Athlete.”
At first, there was an uncomfortable silence or perhaps a giggle or two in the room. As an auditorium full of Adult Girl Scout Volunteers, we came in many sizes and shapes. I don’t always identify as an athlete, so I found myself looking around nervously. I don’t think I was alone in wondering who identified as an athlete.

It didn’t take long for Whitney’s intention to be clear, however. The first item on her list was “everyone is capable of engaging their athleticism.” Whether it’s walking down the street, taking a Zumba class, or running a marathon, we all have a way to engage our own version of athleticism. Finding a way to communicate this larger definition of being an athlete is our challenge with young girls.

One of my favorite take-aways from Whitney’s talk is this: Find the JOY in your exercise. In other words, figure out what you like and do that. She also shared a quote from Susan B. Anthony from 1896 that I’d never heard.

Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.

Imagine, athleticism as a means for independence. It is an amazing and empowering idea. Think about all the things exercise and athleticism does for our girls. Confidence. Joy. Health. Character.
Later in the day, during a break-out session, I had the chance to explore more concepts of bringing out our inner athlete. I identify as a golfer, but I don’t always think of myself as an athlete—after taking part in this workshop, I’m going to start!

I met a woman who plays softball, one who curls, and one who participates on a roller derby team. One woman in the group was a salsa dancer, one was a country line dancer, and one was an avid Zumba class participant. Out of about 15 people, not one of the group participated in the same sport. It was an amazingly diverse list of activities.

Remember, these are all adult Girl Scouts. I’m always proud to be an adult Girl Scout, but on this day, I was proud to be amongst this very cool group of diverse athletes.

So…below in the comments…what do you appreciate about being a female athlete?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Battle of the Sexes: Equality and relationships

My kids have discovered The 70's Show and are binge watching the program on Netflix. In the "The Battle of the Sexists" episode, next door neighbors and love interests Donna and Eric play a series of basketball and air hockey games. Eric loses to Donna and feels emasculated. His male friends don't make the situation any better with their teasing. Through the course of the show, Donna tries losing on purpose to make Eric feel more manly but can't really stomach her own fakery. In the end, they finally agree not to keep score when they play against each other.

So it is still the same for girls?

Many women will agree that their daughters have a much more level playing field in sports, and education (see last week's post on the book LET ME PLAY) but what about in hetero love and relationships. Is there still a series of male/female game playing that encourages girls to be less than they are? Do they lose on purpose in athletics, dumb down in class, deny their own sexual desire all because they don't want to drive the boy away?

From my adult experiences, I would guess, yes. What do you think? And if you agree, is this only a hetero experience or does it carry over into homosexual relationships as well? Are there YA books you've read that show this dynamic?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sporty Book Review: Let Me Play, by Karen Blumenthal

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Nonfiction, history in particular, gives us a deeper understanding of the foundation upon which our experiences are built. Such is the case with Karen Blumenthal’s 2005, LET ME PLAY.

I finished this book a week ago but it has seeped so deeply into my consciousness that I continue to bring it up whenever possible. While the focus of the book is Title IX and its effects on sports programs for girls and women, it is much, much more. It is a book about how policy and politics matter to all of us.

The book, appropriate for grades five and up, begins with an easy-to-read survey of the early fight for women’s right from Seneca Falls in 1848, to Women’s Suffrage, to a quick summary of the 1930’s and 1940’s, to the effect of war on women and work. This quick historic review sets the stage for the 1963 Equal Pay Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Blumenthal concentrates on Representative Edith Green and Representative Patsy Mink who worked tirelessly drafting, honing, and defending equal educational opportunities for women throughout their long tenures in the US Congress. The original intent of the Education Amendments of 1972 was not to equal the playing fields but the classrooms—educational programs for schools receiving federal money including admissions, scholarships, and teaching salaries. The opening of physical education and athletic programs was an unexpected bonus for all the girls and women who had been turned away from little league, track meets, swimming pools, and more.

LET ME PLAY highlights key political and sports players in sidebars called “Player Profiles.” In “Instant Replays,” we learn about key historical events. Throughout the book “Scorecards,” show statistics comparing the numbers of male and female participants in sports, admissions to undergrad, and admissions to select graduate programs. These statistics show the consistent progress of women in athletics and education. While these “Scorecards” are understated, they are inspiring and empowering to the reader.

There are many current female athletes, girls and women alike, who are ignorant about the fight that got us the freedoms we enjoy today. These athletes might not remember a world where the adults or men in women’s and girl’s lives wouldn’t let them play soccer, basketball, softball, rugby, or field hockey—a day when being feminine and fertile was more important than a woman’s talents and dreams. Those days were not so long ago, and many of the issues from the 1960’s, The Equal Pay Act, are still being challenged and fought in 2014. LET ME PLAY is the book that reminds those who may have forgotten, and teaches those who never knew, that we owe our freedoms to women and men who came before us.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Researching Concussions

In between fiction projects, I recently took a nonfiction assignment. I’m writing about concussions. It’s a very timely subject, but writing for a fourth and fifth grade level is a little tricky on this serious subject.

Did you know that according to the CDC girls are most likely to get a concussion while playing soccer or while biking than any other activity? *

Boys are more likely to suffer from concussions while playing football. 

The takeaway from all the research I’ve been doing is this:

  • Ask some key questions if you suspect a concussion.
a.     Do you remember what happened?
b.     What is the date?
c.     Can you remember the last play?
  • Observe the person.
a.     Do they seem dizzy?
b.     Can they walk in a straight line?
c.     Do they appear “off” in any way?
d.     Do they complain of a headache?

If you even suspect a possible concussion—even if the person says they are okay—ask them some questions and observed their behavior. If they seem “off” in any way, make them sit out the game and get medical assistance as soon as possible. A second hit after a first concussion, can be devastating and, sometimes, deadly.

I don't have a publication date for my book, but it will likely be next fall.

I recommend Robert Cantu’s book CONCUSSIONS AND OUR KIDS: http://robertccantumd.com/concussions-and-our-kids/

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Girlsports initiative from Girl Scouts (GSUSA)

I wanted to share with you today some information about an initiative from the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). In the fall of 2013, GSUSA relaunched its GirlSports initiative. Together with Nestlé USA, they are “proud to continue Girl Scouts' century-long legacy of committing to girls' leadership by actively engaging millions of girls in sports, nutrition, and healthy living.”

As a Girl Scout leader and mother of a pre-teen girl, I love that the Girl Scouts are encouraging fitness and being strong. The following is from a press release dated September 13, 2013.

"Today's youth have been raised indoors, away from the physical activity that was so common just a generation ago," said Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. "GirlSports is about reminding girls of the importance of staying active and staying fit, and teaching them how they can have fun in the process."

Since 1912, Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts, believed that health, nutrition, and fitness were essential to the Girl Scout experience. Girl Scouts hiked, played basketball, went on camping trips, and were encouraged to prepare healthy meals. We recognize now more than ever that we need to engage girls through sports and healthy living. We know that girls who play sports earn better grades, develop more confidence, and get more involved in their communities.

The GirlSports initiative has been around for decades and utilizes the Legacy Athlete badge program to connect girls to health, leadership, learning, and teamwork through sports. Girls also earn five age-appropriate badges that teach them about fair play, practicing with a purpose, good sportsmanship, cross-training, and coaching.

In collaboration with Nestlé USA, we created the new GirlSports booklet, which illustrates and explains the existing sports programming and/or healthy-living initiatives of each council, and provides councils with a turnkey asset to engage donors and recruit girls, parents, schools, and others in the community. This new 12-page booklet also highlights our current program offerings for girls in sports through the five athletic badge offerings, the Make Your Own badge, and online activities on our website ForGirls.GirlScouts.org.

"Nestlé USA is proud to be Girl Scouts of the USA's inaugural GirlSports sponsor," says Kenneth W. Bentley, vice president of community affairs and educational programs. "At Nestlé USA, we are committed to delivering 'Good Food, Good Life' to communities nationwide. The GirlSports program is one of many ways we support this message. Our partnership will encourage girls to take a holistic approach to health by playing sports, eating healthy, and building self-esteem."
With GirlSports, Girl Scouts continues the mission of inspiring girls to achieve leadership roles in all aspects of society, helping them get there through sports and the leadership skills they learn in the process—no matter what paths they choose.

About Girl Scouts of the USA
Founded in 1912, Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, with 3.2 million girl and adult members worldwide. Girl Scouts is the leading authority on girls' healthy development, and builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. The organization serves girls from every corner of the United States and its territories. Girl Scouts of the USA also serves American girls and their classmates attending American or international schools overseas in 90 countries. For more information on how to join, volunteer or reconnect with, or donate to Girl Scouts, call 800-GSUSA-4-U (212-852-8000) or visit www.girlscouts.org.

About Nestlé USA
Named one of "The World's Most Admired Food Companies" in
Fortune magazine for sixteen consecutive years, Nestlé provides quality brands and products that bring flavor to life every day. From nutritious meals with Lean Cuisine® to baking traditions with Nestlé® Toll House®, Nestlé USA makes delicious, convenient, and nutritious food and beverage products that make good living possible. That's what "Nestlé. Good Food, Good Life" is all about. Nestlé USA, with 2012 sales of $10 billion,is part of Nestlé S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland—the world's largest food company with a commitment to nutrition, health, and wellness—with 2012 sales of $98 billion. For product news and information, visit Nestleusa.com or Facebook.com/NestleUSA.