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?