So full disclosure: I’m so un-athletic that I am still recovering from playing fantasy football. Luckily, my kids seem to enjoy sports. We’ve got currently got Kung Fu, Youth in Motion/Girls on the Run, and horseback riding on the roster, with soccer and field hockey starting this spring. My kids swim, ride bikes, rock-climb, hike, surf, snowboard, and hoola-hoop dance (yes, it’s a thing). I get my workout taking them (and all their gear) around town to all their various sports each day.
So when I was asked to blog about National STUDENT-Athlete Day, which occurs on April 6, I had to do a bit of research on this topic. I discovered that this day was created in 1987 as a way to honor high school and college student-athletes who have excelled both in academics and athletics and who have contributed to their communities and schools in a significant way.
As a child I had been in gymnastics, on the swim and dive team, and a soccer player. Sadly, this was back in the olden days, and due to a lack of encouragement of girls in sports, I outgrew any inclination to stay with them. More importantly, there were not many female role models in athletics who could have provided that inspiration. By the early 90’s, Tonya Harding was in the process of undoing the progress that Billie Jean King had made for female athletes, and Mia Hamm’s trailblazing victory for women in sports was still a decade away.
It wasn’t until after I graduated that I realized I went to school with an Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast (Dominque Dawes, I heart you), but while we were in school, she was never acknowledged, let alone celebrated. In college, my school was all over the sometimes-winning Rugby team, but barely discussed the almost-always-winning girl’s Lacrosse team.
Times have changed and I’m pleased to see a new generation of famous female sports figures who are celebrated for their athletic achievements. And I am really happy to hear about National STUDENT-Athlete Day for a few reasons:
First, this gives recognition to peers of our children – not adults and – especially not sport-celebs. My daughters are able to see girls their own age get recognized and awarded, instead of wondering if they need to look like Anna Kournikova in order to succeed.
Second, the award criteria is quite clear: “All student-athletes honored have achieved a 3.0+ GPA and are involved in outreach and community service.” This sends a powerfully positive message about being well-rounded — about the importance of excelling in academics and being a good citizen.
So I encourage you to seek out the Student Athletes in your community who have been selected for this achievement. Bring your kids to a game or match to see them in action and explain what the award means. And if you know of a Student Athlete who has made a significant contribution to his or her family, school, town, or community we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Cricket Media Mama just partook in a marathon blog-writing session. She wishes someone would hand her a paper cup full of wine now that she has crossed the finish line. She would also like an oval sticker for her car’s bumper to celebrate this milestone achievement.