Happy International Day of the Girl!
Happy International Day of the Girl! There are so many reasons to celebrate today! I am fortunate to have grown up in a household with a sister and now I have my own daughter who both have taught me so many things. I went to an all girl’s school when I was growing up from Kindergarten-12th grade which I believe gave me the opportunity to develop my voice as a girl and as a young woman. I was taught that I could be a leader and that I could follow my dreams. I believed that I could do what I wanted from a young age. I chased my dreams of being a Captain of my Women’s Crew team at Colby when I was in college because I wanted to lead such a strong group of women to chase their goals and their finish lines.
Today however, I want to look back on an important memory of mine and share with you a little window into the strength of girls that I was witness to and that I will forever hold in my heart.
After college I followed my dreams of becoming a crew coach and was proud to lead the Novice Women’s Crew Team at Bates College. What a privilege to be the one to lead a group of young women in sport. Many of my athletes had never picked up an oar before. Some had joined the team because their friends had joined the team. Some joined out of curiosity for the sport but for whatever reason they all ended up with me as their coach sitting in two skinny 64 foot long rowing shell on the Androscoggin River in Greene, Maine. There is something special about being together in a boat like this. You have to find your individual strengths but you also must find your rhythm for working together or the boat won’t go as fast and there can be frustration. What I witnessed as a coach with this group of girls (young women) was dedication, pride, determination, strength, and courage. These girls gave me these things every day at practice. They decided that they wanted to be fast, they wanted to work together to reach their goals, they wanted to be strong women-strong of mind and strong of body. They wanted to give it their all.
These young women showed up every day at practice with minimal griping about the cold or the rain or the pain of hands blistered and ripped open from repeated strokes. Instead, they pushed off from the dock every day determined to work hard, to fight for seats in the top boat, with a desire to find the perfection that makes a boat move forward, gliding through the water. When I called for them to push harder, to move the boat at sprint speeds, the coxswain (the voice of the crew, the brains of the boat, the one steering a perfect course) would call out her commands and they would respond in unison with their bodies and their strengths. Each piece rowed they were banking towards the championship event. They found that if they worked together collectively that they could go faster and that their strength would become one.
Every day when I stepped into my coaches launch I was in awe of these girls working together for themselves, for each other and for me. This is what I love about the sport of rowing is that through the sport they found the ultimate form of trust and they believed in each other. It was simply beautiful to watch. When it came to race days. These girls would agree to put everything on the line with each other and at the end of the season they prevailed with a 3rd place and a 2nd place finish at the two Championship events. When they lined up at the starting line I knew they had the magic to row their hearts out and to be proud. I had watched them all season as they had worked to finish stronger than any novice women’s crew at Bates before them. The pride and excitement as they crossed those finish lines was exhilarating. They demonstrated to me the power that we as women have to be successful both as individuals and collectively for when you come together in a crew shell you must bring both individual and group strength and dedication. They go hand in hand.
And from this group of young women working together we can see how together we can rise to great heights. We must always be there for each other, ready to lift each other up and to connect our strengths together to reach our greatest successes.
Please share your greatest memory of girls and young women working together to help each other rise!