What it Means to Play Like a Girl

Girls playing Soccer

You know about my advocacy of Girl Power.

My card-carrying membership in the Male Feminist Society.

The fact I love my girls three, and all they do, girly or not.

Some of that hits the surface only. It’s easy to be the advocate or card-carrier or love my girls. But to really immerse myself in this life of girl-rearin’, I have to kind of roll around in it and live in it.

I’m not about to reveal that I’ve been using their lip gloss, swooning over One Direction videos with them, or ordering my chicken nuggets with ketchup. But to raise girls, It helps to understand girls. (Like when Josh Hamilton’s character in “Outsourced” struggled to effectively manage a call center in India until he stopped to understand India, rather than run it as an American office. Recommended Netflix viewing, by the way.)

It’s not a new concept, after all. As a sports writer, I always appreciated the female rendition of games, and their contrast to what the sport looks like when my gender tips it off/tees it up/kicks it off:

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Women’s basketball: Played beneath the rim, yes, but with greater patience, commitment to passing and fundamentals;

Men’s basketball: Played above the rim, with score-in-droves urgency, with commitment to flair and showmanship.

Women’s golf: Predicated on the safer lies, the smarter approach, the reliance on a strong short game;

Men’s golf: Predicated on a belief that with a titanium driver, personal trainer and dry-wick polo shirt, we can drive a golf ball right *through* any quarter-mile thick grove of trees and *over* any major body of water hazard that dares stand in the way of us and a double-eagle.

Women’s soccer: Played with smarter defensive tactics, not just rough play, and with winning the ball at a premium;

Men’s soccer: Played with more of a prison hierarchy of defensive tactics, with punishing your opponent near your goal at the premium.

Want to know why the male cardinal is red, why the male mallard has a shiny, green head, or why those little green lizards puff out their throats whenever there’s a predator, male rival, or semi-attentive female around?

Want to know why we men have to buy a bigger grill, an automobile with more horsepower, a drill set with more drill bits?

Why we can’t stand to order lunch without supersizing?

We feel we have to go big, or go home, as it’s been said.

Sports icon

And it’s precisely why, when we play sports, we try to kill it.

Mash it.

Crash it.

Wind up in a SportsCenter highlight.

I’m as guilty as the next.

I couldn’t understand why my throw in Wii bowling would curve so severely, and wind up toppling three pins despite the thunder I brought with the hardest fling of the controller I could muster.

Grr! That should be a strike!! I remembered days of my youth bowling for real, with materials, not computers, when my friend Nathan’s goal wasn’t a strike or a turkey or a 300 game – he simply wanted to break a pin. Just one. Break it because he’d thrown the heaviest ball he could muster as hard as he could.

Now that’s a story.

Anyway, Marie set me straight and bled a little of that caveman mentality out of me.

“You don’t have to swing so hard, dad,” she pointed out, then demonstrated a more effective – dare I say feminine – throw, which wound up with her on her toes, Wii controller pointed heavenward. (No, I didn’t add that flair).

I did take some mustard off, though.

3d,alleys,bowling balls,Fotolia,games,knocked down,lanes,pins,rows,spares,sports,strikesAnd bowled a strike.

This lesson played itself out on the disc golf course, too, where I’d unconsciously squinted my eyes and put my entire being into a tee shot, somehow believing I’d actually slice *through* any trees in the way, and my disc would land safely inside the basket on the other side. If only I threw it as hard as I possibly could without producing a hernia, hemorrhoid or aneurysm.

I began tossing to spots. Throwing with my arms and shoulders and pivoting my waste, instead of taking a running start like a javelin thrower on Benadryl.

My game improved immensely. I even began bagging long putts, and nearly nabbing unreasonably long shots, from 60-plus yards. Trees everywhere celebrated their safety in silence.

Again, a little mustard saved.

A little less puffing out of the red throat bubble.

An understanding that you can look the girl at the counter in the eye at Five Guys Burgers and Fries and say, “I’ll have a “little bacon cheeseburger,” and not believe you’re simultaneously forfeiting your man card, but that it says volumes about your reasonability; that it doesn’t mean you’d never make it through a round of ancient gladiator action, and  that you’re still a prince, or a badass, or whatever it is you aspire to be.

After eyeing a tough lie for his disc, sitting in a wooded area with a substantial oak tree between him and the pin, a player at the World Disc Golf championships turned to me, the official spotter of hole No. 7, and said, “I’d better just play this one like a girl.”

Edison Disc Golf

He did. And finished the hole in three strokes, not four, as he might have had he reeled back and tried to kill it.

Play beneath the rim.

Defend smartly.

Throw/drive to spots.

Because when you take a little mustard off, sometimes, it’s all gravy.

5 For Friday: 5 things I hate

photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc
photo credit: Kalexanderson via photopin cc

I’m usually one to love. Write about love. Loving things.

But like vegetables, shin splints, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, love can’t exist without a dose or three of hate.

“Leave hate for Hitler,” I like to say. (OK, I don’t say it, yet, but I heard it in a movie, and it sounded cool.)

Inspired by the hateful words on tidbitsofchaos.com (the author isn’t hateful – she’s honest, insightful and funny), here’s my list of 5 things I hate (I’d considered making it 10, but it didn’t make sense to double the dose on my Five For Friday theme that I got from another blogger, Krafty Kat).

1. Every country that goes against the U.S. in the Olympics.

 

The kids have picked up on this one, and it’ll mean talk about the difference between American pride and, um, being openly racist. It’s actually a fine line. We can stew over a Russian gymnast celebrating an American mistake, and rightly so, but the following exchange happened between my oldest two and me, in the presence of my sister, who was appalled:

Me: Dangit, the American didn’t win.

Elise: Who won?

Me: The French dude.

Elise: I hate the French.

Marie: I hate anyone who isn’t American.

They’re just learning about this great big world. Of course we don’t hate the French; of course, we don’t hate anyone who isn’t American. But the seeds for a healthy disdain for your rivals and the seeds for hating your rival sometimes get mixed in the same pack.

We’re working on that.

As American women’s soccer star Alex Morgan pointed out, “I wanted to beat Canada SO BAD.” This isn’t a bad thing to feel or say. As I said, we’re working on it … because it’s OK to really, really dislike your rivals.

2. The rivals: the Dodgers, Raiders, red wings, and lakers.

It’s OK to have rivals. That team you can’t stand. That school you have nightmares about your daughter choosing. I’ve always felt if the Broncos went 2-14, and beat the Raiders twice, it’s a great season.

I wonder how many of you noticed I won’t even capitalize the teams’ names. Rivals, though, are what gives sports such depth. They make winning sweeter, losing more bitter, and the desire to get back in and play again overwhelming.

Been part of a rivalry? You know how it feels. For every kid who wears a Duke jersey for a trip to Chapel Hill, or helps carry a rival-inspired trophy out of a stadium, or who has celebrated a title on a rival’s playing grounds, it’s a rich and delicious fabric in sports.

The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry has been explained as “just plain hate.”

I can associate.

3. Buying tortillas in the store.

I’d rather buy maxi pads or Preparation H. There’s just something fundamentally wrong. I’m no longer Catholic, but I’m fairly sure there must be a saint in the Latino Catholic church that watches over the coconut – you know, the one who is brown on the outside and white on the inside.

Saint Masa Trigo, forgive me my sins. I know I should be home making them myself.

My penance? Three Our Fathers, six Hail Marys, and 50 homemade tortillas.

During a shameful trip to Wal-mart, I felt self-conscious taking the white, er, easy way out with tortillas prepackaged in Trenton, N.J. When I decided on the even-cheaper Wal-mart brand and put down the Old El Paso, I did so in the presence of a young Latina.

She shook her head slowly and shopped on. My Latino card had been revoked.

What would abuela do?

Like I was no longer permitted to yell “aye! aye! aye!” during a Spanish polka song (OK, so this isn’t something I have the opportunity to do every day, but still … ), or to bark out “primera a la pelota!” during a soccer game (translated: “first to the ball!”), or to order enchiladas in the Mexican restaurant and use a Spanish accent.

4. Jacking up a favorite shirt by slopping on it.

It’s one thing when a little butter seeped through the end of my tortilla, or pizza sauce dribbled. It’s somehow all the more tragic when the offending spot-creator is something as deplorable as Italian dressing.

I mean, I’ve just relegated a shirt – probably a favorite – to the charity/yard sale pile, all because I thought I’d go all Dr. Oz and douse my salad (what am I doing eating salad in the first place? I’m a carnivore. It better have had bacon bits) with Italian dressing and pass on the Thousand Island, Buttercorn Ranch or Super Creamy Oh So Dreamy Caesar dressing?

Man, I’m getting all steamed up just thinking about it.

Damn salads. Trouble. Leave them for the rabbits.

5. Losing a golf disc to a sneaky kid. Or forest snake. Or wilderness nymph who doesn’t even grant me wishes.

 

More likely, it’s just someone who happens by and decides not to call the cellphone number I’ve scrawled in Sharpie underneath. (Who am I kidding? Half of the discs in my bag have someone else’s name and number on them, and I never call them. It’s the one Old Testament part of me. You know, eye for an eye. We’ll get into this later).

Not to be insensitive to those who’ve lost pets, but when you have to walk away from a thicket or creek without one of your discs, and it’s because you made a lousy throw, it kind of feels like coming home from the vet without your pet.

You feel empty. You’re mad at the world and mad at yourself.

You stew over your emotions. Place blame. On Dodgers fans or Latvians. Or whoever invented the machine that can make tortillas in mass quantities and the companies that are big enough to sell them for 99 cents a bag.

Makes me want to add extra bacon bits, and maybe creamy French dressing, to my salad.

Oh, wait.

Not French.

hate

10 things my girls should always remember.

darth vader stormtroopers

Hey girls. I think of advice constantly for you three, but at all the wrong times. You know, while you’re asleep, or when I’m in traffic, or while I stand deep in thought at the urinal.

So, I’ll do what any reasonable dad in 2012 would do – I’ll write it as a blog post.

Listen up.

Continue reading “10 things my girls should always remember.”

Go Ask daddy About Water Sports, Chalky Hands and Gridiron Legends

photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)

Ah, minds of wonder.

They’re always asking. Inquiring. You know, wondering.

My oldest now has an i-Pod, so perhaps her days of inquiry have ended when it comes to dad. Why ask D-A-D when you can just type in G-O-O-G-L-E?

I take note, and each time I do get the privilege of being asked to explain something in our wonderful and complex universe, I’ll do what any (blogging) father would do – I’ll say, “good question, honey. Let me research it, and I’ll blog about it. I’ll send you a link.”

Continue reading “Go Ask daddy About Water Sports, Chalky Hands and Gridiron Legends”

Guest post: What makes a dad a father (from a daughter’s perspective)

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc
photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

Here’s the first guest post on Coach Daddy – from Erica Stewart, formerly of Modern Parent Online, and now mom behind the blog DevinandErica, which serves to find order in the world of parenting, even as dads like me are kicking up the dust and tickling the kids at bedtime. Be sure to check her out!

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When you sit back and think about your dad, my question to you all is, “what makes your dad a father?” I’m sure that at some point, you have come across one of those Facebook posters with a saying such as “anyone can be a dad, but it takes a true man to be a father.” I posed the question on our fan page on Facebook, DevinandErica, but only had one response from Nicki Webster-Schreiber: “I always believed a father was a protector. One who builds you a fort, kills the spiders and scares the monsters away. I never had a father around but my best friends dad always did those things for us.”

When reflecting back into my own childhood, my father did all those things as well for my brother and I. However, most of my precious memories of my father are those from when I was a teenager. One of the best gifts that my father taught me was that unless I was in immediate danger, he allowed me to make mistakes and was there to catch me when I fell. He would tell me if he thought whatever I was doing was a mistake, but would allow me to make the mistake if I was dead set on doing whatever it was (this included dating – oh the horrors that went through his mind I’m sure… Haha).

Then fast forward a bit to the mid-1990’s when the movie, Father of the Bride, was released. Steve Martin’s character stated something within the movie that I always believed to be true with my own father: “While watching your teenage daughter grow up, as a father you always fear of her meeting and the wrong guy. Then there comes a point when you no longer have that fear, but the fear of her meeting the right guy.”

When thinking of that thought posed within the movie, I wonder how my husband will react later in life when our daughter brings home her first boyfriend; or when she talks about marrying her first love. I’m not going to lie, when I think of these things that will happen in just over ten years I get a chuckle. I have no clue as to how he’ll react, but I know that I’ll be there to let him know that all will turn out the way it is supposed to.

But the questions in between are what is a dad supposed to do until his daughter reaches teenage years? My advice: Allow those girls to be tom-boys if they want. Play softball? Sure. You want to play soccer? Why not? Karate? Absolutely (what father doesn’t want his daughter to know how to defend herself). Also remind yourself that you are raising a future woman. Don’t criticize decisions that she wants to make; instead allow her to make them. Be there to catch her when she falls. This may be hard, especially during the teenage years but it is something that is an absolute must. You can’t expect her to have trust in you later in life if you never instilled trust in her to make her own choices, good or bad.

photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Andrew Morrell Photography via photopin cc

At the end of it all, once she is off at college or married with her own children she hopefully will be able to reflect back on her own life and the cherished memories between herself and you with the same thoughts that I currently have. I’m not saying that my father is perfect, but that’s okay – neither am I. Who wants perfection anyway? Without the bumps in the road you wouldn’t have anything to look back on and laugh at yourself about. Mistakes make us and one another who we are. Without them we would all be Hollywood movies and – – – BORING! =)

***

Erica currently is trying to find ‘normal’ in a world of ‘abnormal’ raising a 2 1/2 year old toddler and a newborn on his way. Although this may seem typical for most parents, Erica does not have any family or close friends around and is trying to build her ‘family’ from neighbors and others that she meets along the way. Follow her journey here.

Things a dude must give up at ages 20, 30, and 40

photo credit: Facing The Storm via photopin (license)
photo credit: Facing The Storm via photopin (license)

Men, we do enough to make ourselves look silly.

We wear fedoras, even though we’re not direct descendants of Vince Lombardi, in Justin Timberlake’s close circle of friends, or play bass in a really cool band, for instance.

We pick fights at youth soccer or baseball games.

We Grow a soul patch or wear skinny jeans. Wrong, at any age.

Continue reading “Things a dude must give up at ages 20, 30, and 40”

I won’t miss my chance for one last dance with Madison

stormtrooper music 2018 photos antique shopNature reminds a man of his age.

Thinning hair. Graying temples. Crow’s feet. Gimpy knees. Nature swipes our get-up-and-go over time. (On the softball field, you know.) It’s why George Thoroughgood’s “Bad to the Bone” gave way to Toby Keith’s “As Good As I Once Was” as my theme song.

A man naturally progresses.

His sports hero retires. His alma mater hires a head coach his age. His sports hero lands a front-office or coaching gig. Makes it to the hall of fame. His sports hero gets sick, or … (Jim Zorn, eat your veggies, please).

The moment that tackles you from behind?

Continue reading “I won’t miss my chance for one last dance with Madison”

When it Comes to Mermaids and my Rockies – You Just Gotta Have Faith

mermaids
photo credit: Is this the Star Wars version of Snow White? via photopin (license)

I knew a man who named his first kid after a movie mermaid. No one you know.

My daughters experienced their own Mermaid Stage. Creative leg wrappings and feet bound together at the heel mark the age. Water games center around my quick-footed kids transforming instantly into half girl, half fish, when they come in contact with the water.

They’re only to become human again at sundown. I think.

Or is it sunset? In mermaid movies – Aquamarine, The Little Mermaid, Splash – mermaids scramble at sunset or sunrise. Forgive my ignorance. I had a Dinosaur Stage, a Stormtrooper Stage, even a Future NFL Quarterback Stage.

None of those changed depending on the sun.

So, Daryl Hannah? Ariel?  The angelic mermaid with dirty blond curls who rescued me when I fell into Frank’s Fishing Pond in Colorado as a teenager? (OK, so I made that up.) You’re out.

Continue reading “When it Comes to Mermaids and my Rockies – You Just Gotta Have Faith”

It’s All Fun and Games, Until Someone Gets Hurt

fun and games
photo credit: Storm Troopers Searching for Remaining Rebels at the Examination School of Oxford via photopin (license)

My girls play through it all. Brutal weather. Corrupt referees. Clueless coaches.

They’ve won and lost games in shootouts. Scored colossal goals. Been party to enormous collapses and stunning comebacks.

They’ve taken verbal abuse from opposing parents, been roughed up by overmatched opponents, and could fill a thousand goals with all the post-game crackers and cookies and chips and Powerades and Gatorades they’ve demolished.

Does the game involve a ball? Expect grace, skill and confidence from my girls.

Continue reading “It’s All Fun and Games, Until Someone Gets Hurt”