In high school, I fought to be the best at every boot-camp exercise our ex-Navy coach put us through during soccer practice. One day I laid flat on my back for nearly 15 minutes lifting my feet six inches off the ground because the coach said whoever kept their feet up longest could get water.
I won. I got water. I couldn’t walk the next day.
I heard my teammates describe what they did to (not with) their girlfriends as a matter of pride. I learned how to change into my uniform on the bus for away games without a sliver of upper thigh or chest showing.
I sometimes stuffed a sock in my shorts, I ran faster and hit harder, and I got angry that the referees refused to call fouls on me. The one time my coach smacked my butt after a good play, “Alright, Hill!” – it surprised us both; he’d forgotten I was a girl for an instant.
I was permitted to play on the boys’ soccer team, thanks to Title IX, because we didn’t have a girls’ team.
My teammates got by fine just being mediocre. I had to be twice as good just to be seen as OK. Continue reading I Survived Sexism. Ableism Took Its Place.