Being a female athlete can be one of the most frustrating things in the world. More often than not, as a female athlete you find yourself stuck in awkward conversations with people who doubt your athletic abilities. Unlike male athletes, there are very limited opportunities for females to grow in athletics. There are fewer competitive female teams, scholarships available, and funding allotted for female athletics.
As a female athlete who has played several different sports over the past 13 years, I’ve found myself feeling the need to prove myself and my athletic abilities to male athletes who partake in the same sports. Growing up I played sports like rugby, basketball, soccer and volleyball all recreationally, however, there was one sport that I played competitively for years and that sport would be softball! Softball is a sport that I’ve been extremely passionate about for as long as I can remember. The older I got I found myself becoming less interested in basketball and soccer and slowly stopped playing those sports – however, Softball was a different story. It seemed to be the one sport that I became incredibly passionate about, and the only one I wanted to play. So, I played rep softball for over 10 years and no matter how passionate or proud I was of the sport I seemed to run into people that always tried to ruin that for me. Throughout my years playing softball, I continuously found myself in a never-ending conversation with baseball players about how “easy” softball was and how it wasn’t a “real sport”. The most annoying part of this is that for years I let comments like these get under my skin, making growing up as a female athlete incredibly difficult.
However, the older I got the more I realized that it shouldn’t and doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about my abilities as an athlete. If I could go back in time and give 12-year-old me advice, it would be - if you’re passionate about something and enjoy it, then do it and let go of other people’s opinions. As an adult this advice seems like pretty common sense but as a kid this idea is a hard pill to swallow.
Since I’ve stopped playing sports, I’ve come to terms with the fact that at the end of the day, my trophies and titles are just as important and well deserved as anyone else’s. To this day, I continue to tell stories about tournaments we won and the bond my teams created while on the road. I’m proud to say that playing sports taught me patience, leadership, and sportsmanship throughout my years as an athlete. I left my teams with life long friends and memories that I’m forever grateful for.
My advice to all young female athletes is- be passionate and proud of your abilities and accomplishments as an athlete.