A group of tween boys jostled and joked with each other as the male coaches tried to calm them down. I’m standing outside of the group with my tween daughter.
“Mami, I’m the only girl. I don’t think I can do this.”
I could hear the nervousness in her voice and could tell she was on the brink of tears. My heart was torn. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy for her to join the boy’s basketball league but it was the only way she would continue to learn.
“Mami, please, let’s just go home.”
I wanted to. I really wanted to just take her home, hug her, and protect her from her fears. But, what would I be teaching her? It’s ok to walk away when you’re scared? It’s ok to let a group of boys intimidate you?
“Maddy, you are just as good if not better at playing basketball than any of these boys. You are on their team and there is no reason to be scared. Let them be scared of you. Go, show them you can play just as hard as they can.”
She went slowly and sat down with the boys. I’m proud to say she never looked back. Now on her fourth week of being the ONLY girl in a boys’ basketball program, she couldn’t be happier. And, I couldn’t be prouder.
As parents we need to teach our daughters to conquer their fears and believe in themselves. A week into the season, another girl who was inspired by my daughter came to one of the practices intent to join. But as the boys gathered I recognized the same scared look, the same nervous whispering and the same pleading eyes. As I watched the mother and daughter leave, I felt sorry for both of them.
Girls, especially Hispanic females, who participate in sports have higher grades, lower drop out rates, are less likely to use drugs and are more likely to graduate college than their non-athletic counterparts. Sports teach women life-long skills. A staggering 80% of female key leaders in Fortune 500 companies are women.
Teaching our daughters to be strong, confident girls whether on the basketball court or in the class room is going to translate to a strong, confident women in the board room. It isn’t easy but it’s a lesson they’ll never forget.
Have you faced a similar situation with your tween daughter or son? Do you feel torn between allowing them to quit or pushing them along?