olympic spirit: a lesson for our young girls


I've never been an athlete. The closest I came to competitive sports was a one year stint as a right-fielder in a junior high softball league. We started out as the second worst team in the league, but quickly swapped that title for the worst team. I did not do much to help relinquish that honor.

However, I have always been a sports spectator. My earliest memory is one of Michael "Air" Jordan, soaring above the basket, his ever present tongue hanging out the side of his mouth. Although my first love was basketball, chants of "Go Big Red" rang proud in my household, and I was branded with the star of a Cowboy during the Aikman era (much to my Redskin fan father's disappointment).

The best time of year for sports (besides March madness) happens every four years. The Summer Olympics are upon us, and I am drinking in every moment. From the Fab Five gymnasts to Michael Phelps becoming the greatest Olympian of all time and even the Chinese ping pong experts---this is the stuff dreams are made of. 

This is the first time that every participating country has a woman Olympian. If that doesn't make a little Rosie the Riveter come out in even the most conservative of gals, you don't know the meaning of Girl Power. Tahima Kohistani is the only woman from Afghanistan to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics. While the United States is cheering on the women gymnastics team and singing along with Missy Franklin and the US Swim Team to their rendition of "Call Me, Maybe", this 23-year-old knows that she will probably not qualify for the finals. She is trying to do so much more to win a medal. Kohistani is trying to prove to her nation that a Muslim woman can hold on to her religion and culture and still be an athlete, a runner, and a symbol of freedom and courage.

While I remember watching the great woman Olympians of my youth: Summer Sanders in the pool and Kristi Yamaguchi on the ice, I will tell Liv about the stories of her first Summer Olympics. I will recall the race Kohistani will soon run for her rights and the camaraderie of McKayla, Aly, Gabby, Kyla, and Jordyn as they encouraged each other and accepted the gold. Even though her mom was never an athlete, I want my daughter to learn from the teamwork and spirit of these Olympic athletes.

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