Have you heard about Mo’Ne Davis? The 13 year old has taken the world by storm. She became the first girl to pitch a shut-out in the Little League World Series, and earn a win! I read her story, and it was actually the story of Maria Pepe, who carved the way for girls like Mo’Ne to play in the Little Leagues who truly inspired me and triggered the emotions for me. In 1972, she was a threat to her male competitors who asked her to be removed from her Little League team because she was a girl. That began a long legal battle which eventually led to the Little Leagues allowing girls to play. Hearing about Mo’Ne makes the younger version of me excited for the future.. As a young girl growing up who loves sports, you always feeling like the opportunities are limited for you simply because you were born a girl. Women play for the love of a sport, because what chances do we have to get paid or become a professional? That aside, the opportunities to even learn certain sports are limited. Hearing Maria’s story of adversity and fighting for girls’ rights to play, leading to Mo’Ne’s incredible accomplishments is what drives me to write today.
I play for a women’s tackle football league in Canada. It is the highest level of women’s tackle football available in Canada, yet every single one of us pays to be here. We do so willingly, and will continue to do so for years because we love the sport, but also because we believe in competitive women’s sports. I think I speak for our whole team when I say that playing women’s tackle football does not just resonate in our souls and ignite a passion within us; more importantly, it feels like we are pressing forward in an unseen battleground, building a forward momentum for the girls who come after us. When I was 13 years old, playing tackle football in the schoolyard (when the teachers weren’t watching) I remember a sad thought that cycled through my head. “I wish there was a girl’s football team in high school, I wish I could play on a girl’s tackle football team.” I look at the dream that has literally come true for me, and I am not ashamed to say that it brings proud tears to my eyes to see how far we’ve come. Last year, our city introduced girl’s flag football to the high schools, and 16 teams participated! When I was in high school, I never would have imagined I could play on an all-girls football team of any kind in high school, let alone with the prospect of going further after high school to play with our WWCFL tackle team, the Valkyries. I know this is only just the start, and it’s not about football. The momentum that is building is that girls deserve these sports opportunities too, and to be respected in their pursuit of sports excellence.
So I guess I’m just writing to say thank you: Thank you to the women out there who have gone before me, fighting hard and working hard to see a world where girls can play; and they can play hard and strong and fast without compromising. Thank you to the men who have joined the journey and teach us with integrity and excellence and respect. I’m also writing to say that I’m committed: I’m committed to fighting hard and working hard to see the world continue to change and grow so that the opportunities keep arising for those girls coming after me.