When I was younger, I used to think that Women’s History Month was stupid. Why would we “women” have to be separated out from the men? Why weren’t we all considered the same?
My parents taught me to be kind and respectful and also that I could do anything a boy or man could do. I had Care Bears AND Star Wars figures. I took tap dance lessons and was a catcher for softball. I was both “girly” and “boyly”. (Yeah, apparently ‘girly’ is a word but not ‘boyly’. Ridiculous.)
My first role models beside my parents were of course those in the media. Princess Leia and Lieutenant Uhura from Star Wars and Star Trek respectively. But then there was Sally Ride. Living in Ohio for most of my life, I grew up with the stories of John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. Since they were both from Ohio, I couldn’t help but be proud of them. Even the Wright Brothers were exciting to me. They were “ours”.
But Sally Ride was the FIRST WOMAN IN SPACE! She was the first real woman I knew that did things that I only saw in movies or TV. So from pop culture to real life, I was seeing women do amazing things in STEM. She helped investigate the Challenger and Columbia disasters, both marked my childhood/adolescence in significant ways. She was a real woman, doing amazing things.
But in my everyday life, I grew up thinking I could and would do anything that I set my mind to. Writing was my first love. Starting as young as 3rd grade, I would enter the schools’ writing contests. Sometimes I would win, sometimes not. Sometimes teachers would tell me that my handwriting was too messy to enter my story…something thing that has never changed, so thank goodness for typing!
The older I got, the more I realized that women were in fact a minority. The first newsroom I worked in, for the Lorain Morning Journal was filled with men but the head editor was a woman. But when I entered the Sports Department, I had to be “spoken for” by a friend who was male and also worked for the paper. He helped me with my first couple of games, teaching me the ropes, but the sports editor made sure to tell me that women never lasted long in HIS department, and I was the lone woman. He said that women couldn’t handle the smoke, and the foul language that came from that department. And that, much to my parents’ chagrin, is where I truly picked up my colorful vocabulary. I had to speak “like them” in order to be heard. I had to stand up for myself, when male coaches tried to belittle me or speak in a condescending manner about the sport I was covering, like I didn’t know what a lay-up or a bank shot was in basketball. I couldn’t run to my friend or to the editor, I had to handle it on my own, and did. Little by little, the coaches learned not to mess with me, to just give me my quotes and I would be out of their hair and honest in my writing.
Which brings me to today. I was asked last week if I would help write profiles for women in sports who helped transform, and make a path for other women in sport. This was asked of me by the owner and founder of SuperFit Hero, Micki Krimmel.
Krimmel has a brand of clothing that is size inclusive. I am a larger, curvy, active person. I play roller derby and when I’m healthy, I like to wog (run/walk). I could never find clothes that worked for me…until SuperFit Hero. And guess what, you’d never guess what her line of athletic leggings, capris and shorts have…POCKETS! Its so egalitarian. I’d say that one of the biggest differences between women’s and men’s athletic gear, apart from size discrimination is, the lack of pockets.
Long story short, my first profile for SuperFit Hero was published on Instagram and Facebook today. It highlights an amazing woman, Nikki Franke who is a fencing coach at Temple University and also a former, medaling Olympian.
So if you have the chance, do check out the profile of Nikki Franke, and also follow and like SuperFit Hero. They really do want women to have all the success that men have had in gear, and to feel confidant in their skin to be active and comfortable.
Women’s History Month is important until the world truly is egalitarian. Until then, we remember the women who have gone before us. The Sally Rides, Frida Khalos, and Nikki Frankes of the world, making it possible for us to be successful no matter our gender, race or economic status.
For Women’s History Month, we are honoring one female athlete each week who through their leadership and athleticism, have blazed a trail for countless women to compete after them. First up is Nikki Franke, Hall of Fame Women’s Fencing coach at Temple University. Franke has been the head coach since the team was formed in 1972 and just achieved her 800th win as coach in February! She told Temple News, “Whatever people do, it can’t be done by themselves. It takes hard work from everyone. I just want to be able to come into work everyday and share the sport I love with other people. I am grateful for an opportunity to do that.” In her tenure of 45 seasons, Franke has a .955 winning percentage and only 2 losing seasons. Prior to coaching, Franke was a world class fencer herself. She competed as a member of the ‘76 and ‘80 US olympic foil squad and she medaled in the Pan American Games in ‘75 and ’80. Born in Harlem in the 1960’s, fencing opened up a world of opportunity for Franke. "It changed my life," Franke told ESPN. "I got to travel the world. I've been to places I never even dreamed about.” Franke was named USFCA Coach of the Year in 1983, 1987, 1988 and 1991. She has been inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame, United States Fencing Association Hall of Fame and Temple University Athletics Hall of Fame. Franke is one of the co-founders of Black Women in Sport Foundation, a nonprofit that encourages black women and girls to participate in all areas of sports. #superfithero #womenshistorymonth #wmh #womensday #internationalwomensday #womeninsport #TempleNews #fencing #NikkiFranke #womensfencing #templeuniversity #templefencing #blackwomeninsport #wcw