Going into a profession when you start out as the minority. It’s hard to continue with something you love when you are constantly being told someone is bigger and stronger than you. Growing up in a sports town, I was pushed into athletics at a young age and quickly fell in love, but finding my confidence when the spotlight was always on the male athletes was difficult. Yet, as the current saying goes, nevertheless, I persisted.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always played or been around sports in some way. I’ve come from a long line of athletes, more specifically male athletes: one of whom was my dad. I became the son he never had when it came to sports and I was more than O.K. with that. Having been a coach and an athlete himself, he always valued true talent over anything else. To him, it was never about gender norms when it came to sports; it was always about having a mutual passion for the thing we loved the most in this world — sports. The fact that I was a girl never stood in his way when it came to teaching me. I don’t think that was ever a thought in his mind.
Remembering the good times with my dad on different courts and diamonds over the years got me thinking: if an athlete as decorated as he is didn’t even bat an eye to me pursuing sports, why doesn’t the world have the same view?
“I don’t think being an athlete is unfeminine. I think of it as a kind of grace,” said Jackie Joyner-Kersee, a retired American track and field athlete. She ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the heptathlon as well as long jump.
She’s right, you know. Athleticism doesn’t immediately mean masculinity. The stigma set over the past century may have painted that picture, but it’s not an accurate representation of how it is in today’s society. Women have not only been setting records in sports, but they’re often dominating the sporting news cycle, especially the huge stars like Serena Williams, Katie Ledecky and Ronda Rousey. Icons like Joyner-Kersee have helped destroy this stigma and bestow a bit of credibility to women in sports. Unfortunately, it’s still more of a boys’ club than anything.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but the most decorated athlete in Harding history happens to be a female athlete. Ewa Zaborowski, a four year cross country and track athlete from Poland has not only won numerous awards but also holds multiple Harding records. As a freshman runner, I looked up to her not only for her amazing running abilities, but for her humility.
When it comes to athletics, it shouldn’t matter whether you are male or female. What should matter, though, is your heart and determination for the game.