Being a female born in 1946, there were not many athletic opportunities open to me as I grew to adulthood. Well, at least there were not many institutionalized competitive chances. Unlike the girls of today, the young girls in the fifties did not play soccer, softball, volleyball, baseball, or basketball. Maybe we were fortunate to have coeducational gym classes at my elementary school; but in later years, the boys were separated from the girls in my junior high and high school physical education classes. The athleticism in my high school gym class consisted of the class of girls walking the circumference of the Girl's Gymnasium while being encouraged by our teacher to walk briskly, to throw out our chests, and to move our arms enthusiastically.
I am not a picture of athletic prowess, but as a child I could run fast and seemingly fly over the high jump bar. In kindergarten, my teacher said that I was the best skipper in class. Now, granted this was kindergarten, and maybe the teacher was being kind and found something for each child to excel in or be best at doing.
But on with my track story...in third grade, the activity for one period was to run the 60 yard dash as our teacher timed our speed. All 37 children in our class ran the sixty yards while being timed by our teacher, Miss Spangle. After everyone was finished running, Miss Spangle announced all of student's times except mine. To top this off, she exclaimed that "Michael Haines with the best time is the fastest runner in the class," and of course, the class cheered. Then, my teacher took me aside and told me quietly and privately that she had not announced my time as I ran faster than Michael. She continued that my score was not announced as we would not want Michael to feel badly that he was beat by a girl.
The sad part of that story was not that the teacher lied or that I was cheated out of the brief moment of glory of being the fastest runner in class. The sad part of the story is that I thought the teacher was right, "We would not want Michael to feel badly being outrun by a girl." The good news is times have changed. In today's world, young girls have open to them a wide range of athletic events including softball, basketball, swimming, golf, tennis, gymnastics as well as track. You go girls.