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  • Writer's pictureMartin Davis

Forging a Gender-equal world

Monday marked International Women's Day. I'm always saddened that we need such days to call attention to the barriers that historically marginalized groups continue to face. And yet, as the IWD website notes, we still need these days.

"According to the World Economic Forum, sadly none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children. Gender parity will not be attained for almost a century. "

Calls such as this to correct societal inequalities can feel overwhelming. What can any one person do to right historic wrongs? Even a cursory study of history reveals that seismic shifts occur slowly. Breaking the color barrier in baseball, for example, did not occur in a vacuum. It came on the heels of nearly 75 years of efforts by African Americans to gain equal recognition on the Diamond.

The answer, I've learned this year, isn't all that complicated. Just open the door of opportunity, and let the women show what they can do.

This year, for the first time, I am honored to coach two young women in a sport that many still consider a man's domain - football.

I became their coach not through any grand vision of empowering women to play. It came because I needed depth at the place-kicker position, and the school's women's soccer coach recommended three of his players.

A short workout later, two decided to take the plunge.

Over the following several months, these two young women took on the task of transitioning from soccer players to football players. Not only did they have to learn proper technique for kicking a football - which, contrary to what many believe, is nothing like kicking a soccer ball - but they had to become part of a football team. This meant off-season conditioning in November and December in this weird, Covid-driven season; getting accustomed to practicing in helmets and pads, going through tackling drills just like everyone else on the team, and taking part in the many rituals that help turn 50-odd souls with individual dreams into a team.

Halfway through the season, we sit at 2-1, and my two place-kickers aren't just on the team, they have been accepted as equals and are key contributors. One earned the starting place-kicking job, and has done very well for us on the field.

I can take no credit for their success, any more than I can take credit for any of my players', past and present, success. Players earn their spots. They earn their playing time. And they earn the trust of their coaches and teammates to be placed on the field and perform.

All we as coaches have to do is create the opportunity for them to show the world what they can do. This IWD, look around your program and ask yourself, do we make women feel welcome? If the answer is no, then let them know the doors are open. They will take it from there.

Our kicker drilling her first, but hardly her last, PAT of the season.

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