family, fitness and nutrition, Uncategorized

A Long Time Coming

The Victory Lap of senior year is marching on.

We are over halfway!

The first big end-of-season celebration recently wrapped. Of course, I’m thinking and looking back at how far she has come.

Over 10 years ago, my little scrapper started flag football in our local church league. The teams were coed. She has always liked playing sports with the boys. She relished the chance to go toe-to-toe with them and loved pulling their flags, dodging their “tackles,” and winning. Football of any kind isn’t usually a girl’s sport, so she may have had one other girl on her teams through those years. When she got to 4th grade or so, that age when bodies and minds start to really realize that girls and boys are different, she was the only girl on those teams. Again, she didn’t care and the boys’ fumbly discomfort around her even made her secretly giggle. She still loved running past them for the touchdown. She just wanted to play.

In high school, things get a little more serious. I remember reading in the paper that flag football would be coming to our county as a grant-funded club sport for girls. How exciting! The transition to high school had been a challenge for her and I thought it would be great. But, the schedule and coaches discouraged her from trying out that first year. She could get injured. She was already playing volleyball. It wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, the sport continued into her sophomore year. Again, a club sport, but after not making the volleyball team, the path was cleared for her to try out for flag football. She made that team and had a ball with a group of (mostly) new friends.

During her junior year, flag football became a varsity-level sport in our state, so she could earn her letter and competition would grow. She was named captain of that team and had a great season (despite COVID quarantine and lots of other ups and downs). And then this year, as a senior captain, she again helped lead her team to the playoffs, and was named to all-county teams on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. She received her 4th scholar athlete award, keeping her grades up all the while.

As she wound down her high school flag football career, she received what is called the Hawk Award from her coaches. Every varsity team at our school has just one of these awards. It is given to the player that excels on and off the field, in the spirit of the Hawks, her school mascot.

Remembering her first year of high school, when I drove her 30 minutes each morning away from home in the icy dark…she would hardly speak. Later she told me she would cry every single day when she arrived at school. I took her from her neighborhood friends, her safe zone, and plopped her into a school that was so different, so huge, so competitive. She had to work hard to achieve. Seek out help when she needed it. It was an honor to be selected for a team, not just a given. But just like my parents had done for me, pulling me from a sinking neighborhood school and taking me across town to a better high school, it has all worked out for the better. She’s grown to appreciate the opportunity and has made the most of it. She’s become a leader, a scholar, and a Hawk. After all those chilly, quiet, traffic-filled mornings, I can look back and know again that the effort was worth it.

And now on to her grande finale, lacrosse season!

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