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Basketball season began in our house today. The big girl, who played last year, was concerned that she might be the only girl on the team. Her fears were swept away when she discovered that not only was there another girl on the team, her COACH was also female (assisted by her husband). She proudly wears the jersey of the USC Trojans…a jersey that actually fits this year.

It is amazing the difference a year makes! Gone is the timidity and hesitancy…she just waded into the fray, completely unconcerned about getting in someone’s face. She’s not worried about being “girly” this year, either — just wants to play the game. And play she did…making 6 baskets and running up and down the court with abandon.

This is the first experience with team sports for the little one. She is the tiniest member of The Cal Poly Mustangs pre-k and kinder team, although today’s opposing team has another girl just her same size. There is nothing tiny about her heart, though. And her coaches are terrific…after attempting two baskets and missing by a huge margin, her coach scooped her up in his arms for her third — and successful — try. She lit up like a Christmas tree, not caring that she needed help, just thrilled to make her basket. Her highest arching shot bounced right off the back of her tallest teammate’s head, but he didn’t care, either! Like her, he was just thrilled to be in the game.

They don’t keep score in this league; the players don’t, at least. The parents have a pretty good idea of who sank more baskets, but the focus is not on winning or losing, but on building relationships and having fun. And that’s not just hype. The kids are having a blast! The coaches have the freedom to stop mid-game and work on basics, or change the pace of the game so that all players are included. They aren’t smarmy about it, just nice.

Playing basketball was one of my dreams in high school, but in pre-Title 9 California girls only got to play in P.E. I can hardly wait to take these two to a WNBA game so that they can see women playing professionally. We truly have come a long way, baby, and our girls will be going even farther.

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