Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Being a Female Athlete

CHICKS ROCK! wants you to welcome Bridget back as a guest blogger this week:

Bridget is a senior at Vassar College, studying Political Science and Women's Studies. She loves watching movies with her younger brother and playing rugby for her school.

With February comes the beginning of the rugby season. I’ve been playing sports competitively since seventh grade. I was mostly involved in basketball growing up, traveling across the nation to play at tournaments for college recruiting scouts. In my first year at Vassar, one of my basketball teammates began playing rugby. She told me, “It’s like American football, but without any pads and a thousand times more fun.” I couldn’t believe how she or anyone could possibly enjoy being tackled, risking broken bones and concussions.

At that time, I was burning out from basketball, tired of being in a gym every night and watching endless hours of basketball footage. I decided to move on to something fresh and play a sport that I had no real knowledge of or experience with.

My first day of rugby should have been miserable. The sky was a deep gray, it was pouring rain, and there seemed to be chaos breaking out on the field with people running on top of each other. But it felt liberating to be in an open field, breathe fresh air, and not only practice with men, but match them in pace and strength!

Rugby is an incredibly brutal contact sport. Often described as “organized violence,” it demands strict discipline, both physically and mentally. Nothing will challenge your stamina more than hitting a blue body bag, getting back up and hitting it again with equal ferocity. Because of the physicality, teams must be cohesive and close-knit. If your teammate doesn’t perform well, you might suffer a big hit.

Many people can’t fathom why and how women play. But we play for each other. We play for those who had the courage to start a women’s program. We play to respect our teammates who suffer injuries and still come back. We play to defy stereotypes of women as fragile, weak, and inferior. There is no greater feeling than that of empowerment, and it drove me to return to my team after breaking my leg in a game. Taking pride in our past and the hard hours we put in for each other, I can’t wait to hit those blue bags again.


Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "you go girl!!".

Anonymous said...

You should be very proud of yourself. Women who play sports are furtherng our American goals of equality.

Anonymous said...

Keep tackling the men, keep getting up! I'm looking forward to finally seeing you play.

Tasnim Azad said...

maybe i'm biased, but solid writing, and i love getting at least a sample of what it's like out on the rugby field through this post!

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