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Perspective: See how she runs

Vlad Vasnetsov

I loved to run. And in my day, I was fast.

Just ask my fifth-grade buddy, Jeff. At age 10, I beat him in our gym class’s official 50-yard dash. He still remembers it. So do I. Just sayin’.

He went on to be a standout college football player. I went on to …..well…. the sidelines as did thousands of other young girls who were excluded from school sports up until 1972. That meant no track, tennis, softball, volleyball, basketball, cross country, etc. We women of a certain age still cringe to think of it.

With no team sports, our high schools offered us the Girls Athletic Association or GAA. This basically consisted of we girls flipping a badminton around in a non-competitive after-school activity. As you can imagine, this type of excitement did not last long.

So, when I tell my granddaughters that I loved to run but there were no girls’ sports for us to participate in, shock crosses their sweet faces, and all they can say is, “What?” followed by “Why?”


Gratefully, in 1972 Title IX put an end to that injustice. So, in celebration of its fiftieth anniversary, I am the loudest cheerleader at my granddaughters’ sporting events.

When one granddaughter nails her tennis serve, despite tennis etiquette, I let out a loud yell of praise. When another slugs a softball out to center field, I hoot and holler with abandon. And when a third sprints through the waving grass fields in the golden autumn light of a cross country meet, in my heart I am running beside her, strong and true and free, wind in my hair, wings on my feet.

Marnie O. Mamminga has been a professional essayist and features writer for more than 20 years.