Did you follow the Olympics this summer? Our family started off strong watching the first week of swimming with excitement and enthuisasm, but the late nights began to take the toll by week 2 and sadly I can't tell you much about track and field other than the fact that Usain Bolt is really really fast, hahaha.
But one sport we kept our eye on during most of the Olympics was beach volleyball. It is really interesting how this sport, which experienced mild popularity here on the west coast in the 80's and 90's (remember Karch Kiraly!) has become such a popular Olympic sport over the last 3 Olympics.
One of the main reasons for the surge in beach volleyball's Olympic popularity is no doubt due to the winning duo of Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. These two ladies have absolutely dominated beach volleyball in the Olympics losing only one set over the past 3 Olympics!
She and her family lived in Scotts Valley, California for a few years and Kerri and her brother played Little League baseball in the same league that I played in growing up. Kerri stuck out to me during little league, because she was the only girl in our majors division. I remember being an 11 year old and being annoyed that Kerri who played first base (she was tall even back then) was playing in our little league. In my little 11 year old brain I remember thinking, "this is a boys sport, why is this girl messing up our league?"
Now looking back, I am proud to have played baseball against a future Olympic champion. I am sorry Kerri for being annoyed at you back in elementary school!
Ila Borders. Ila became the first woman to start a collegiate baseball game in 1994 and I faced her later that same baseball season when my team from Biola played against her. The first and only time I batted against her, she quickly threw me two strikes. I could hear my teammates snickering in the dugout, "Don't let a girl strike you out!" She ended up walking me and I remember being so relieved as I jogged down to 1st base that I hadn't struck out!
Now days as a Dad of a daughter, I feel embarrassed that I thought
such things. Any girl or woman who would have the courage to play competitively against boys has my respect. I respect Kerri Walsh for playing little league baseball as the only girl in the league, I respect and appreciate Ila Borders for enduring the teasing and jokes that surrounded her quest to pitch in college baseball and later in the minor leagues.
So next time you see a girl playing little league baseball or another sport with the boys, cheer her on, she could be a future Olympic champion!