On Thanksgiving Day, I dragged through the work feeling sad, wondering why bother to connect kids and cultures in my job as an international schoolteacher and ex pat blogger. I suffered from writer’s angst about my upcoming memoir publication. I missed my homeland, friends, and family, including both Big Kids now living in the States. Like the November weather outside my window, a dense fog settled in my soul. Then I received an unexpected gift – the Written Acts of Kindness Award – from a friend I have never met personally.
Kathy and I took Dan Blank’s Build Your Author Platform Course in 2011. Now we follow each other all over cyberspace! Kathy is a grandma on the go, retired family nurse practitioner, cancer survivor and inspiring writer, whose strong faith and sense of purpose comes through admirably on her blog site, Memoir Writer’s Journey. She is working on a memoir about the power of hope through her faith in God.Read more→
Bear with me as if I go off topic on my post this week. Four years ago, my Frenchman suggested I start a blog to replace my old newspaper column. Little did he know what he was getting into! I enrolled in Dan Blank’s Blogging 101 and How to Build An Author Platform and became a part of a Virtual writing group. My blogging buddy and cyberspace friend extraordinaire, Kathy Pooler of Memoir Writer’s Journey has nominated me for the Inspirational Blog Award.
Nominees are asked to list seven little-known facts about themselves and then pass this prize on to seven other deserving bloggers.
I was bit by rabid skunk when I was 18-months-old; I haven’t been quite right since.
I never carry a purse because it hurts my back.
I dropped out of creative writing class in college because I thought I couldn’t write.
I have Ledderhose Disease, (my first German-named ailment), a rare disorder where nodules grow in the arches of the feet.
I wore high heels only once on my wedding day.
I became a globetrotter, yet still confuse my right from my left and can’t read a map.
My little sisters and I used to prance in front of the picture window in pink nighties; we still dance together, only now we call it aerobics.
Here are 7 of my favorite blogs that I recommend.
1. Authentic Woman – with Clara Freeman, who keeps me real, challenging me to follow my passion and listen to the voice of my inner warrior
2. Life in the Expat Lane –with Missy Footloose, the Dutch ex-pat whose humorous perspective on living everywhere but her homeland, keeps me laughing
3. Du Jour – with Delana, a Minnesotan who pitched everything to start over in Provence France, keeps me in tune with my Frenchness
4. Coach Dawn – with Dawn Redd, Beloit College women’s volleyball coach, who gives me great coaching tips that can also be applied to real life
5. Self righteous Housewife –with Judy Zimmerman, the Erma Bombeck of suburbia, who keeps me chuckling over her family’s antics in the Windy City
6. One Big Yodel – with Chantal Panozzo, a young writer, who left her home of deep dish pizza for the land of cheese and chocolate
7. I also love Any Shiny Thing by my Californian friend, Lynne Spreen. Lynne has introduced me to a new blog worth checking out. Vonnie Kennedy’s Bloomer Notes Blog to help me stay healthy in my Middle Ages
Thanks to my global sisterhood of blogging buddies that keep me inspired!
As the guidelines go:
Link back to X-pat Files From Overseas
Reveal seven little-known facts about yourself
Nominate 7 of your favorite bloggers for the “Inspiring Blog Award”, contact the nominees and give them the guidelines.
“You don’t have to be a victim of your environment. You learn that through sports, you learn that through teamwork. You decide who you want to be and then you go pursue that. “ I learned this key lesson from my college coach, Jill Hutchinson, a legend in women’s basketball. With that mindset, it is no surprise Jill influenced the lives of so many young women in her 28-year tenure as ISU.
She refused to be a victim of gender.
Historically in America, women and sports were incompatible. While at University of New Mexico (1963-1967), Hutchinson was reprimanded for competing in a national tournament in Gallup, NM as part of an AAU state championship team. When a professor, who was then president of the Division of Girls and Women’s Sport (DGWS), announced that women were not suited for team sport, Jill challenged her comment in class.
“She ripped me from one end to the other,” Hutchinson recounted. “I walked out of class in tears. I remember telling some kids in class that I was going to make sure girls have an opportunity to play.”
Before the time women were recruited, I chose Illinois State University on a gut feeling. Coach Jill Hutchinson won me over with her enthusiasm for life and the game.
Coach Hutchinson with Coach McKinzie
Not only were female athletes new, but women coaches were an anomaly.
While Hutchinson racked up championships in her 28-year tenure at Illinois State, she also succeeded at the international level leading the US to a gold at the 1983 World University Games and a silver medal at the 1978 Pan American Games. On the national level, she is known for helping the women’s game grow from obscurity to its current level of popularity.
In spite of the obstacles she confronted, Hutchinson was never bitter. When inducted to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Knoxville Tennessee, Jill said, “I am very fortunate to have lived in the time I have. The progress from the time when we could only play three players on each side of the court to where we are today has been a great experience.”
She was a rookie coach, learning the ropes as she went along, yet she never feared asking questions or standing up for what was right. Jill gained ground with class and kindness at time when women met roadblocks. When women athletics moved from McCormack gym to Horton, they were unwelcome. “I brought brownies to the workers and won them over.”
“Her legacy is etched in stone in national basketball archives with 460 wins and an impeccable graduation rate at Illinois State,” said former ISU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan.
She coached numerous professional players and two Olympians, Charlotte Lewis and Cathy Boswell, but what makes her proudest is the fact that every senior athlete she coached earned a degree, even if she came back years later to attain it.
“If you’re willing to win at all costs, if you don’t emphasize the values in sport and the values in learning then I think you, as a coach, sell out to the big entertainment business. I still think if you’re going to be coaching at a collegiate institution you have an obligation to educate your student athletes.”
She had just as great impact off the court as on it due to her leadership on the rules committee. She was the co-founder and first Women’s Basketball Coaches Association President, an honor she held 4 times.
“I have been extremely fortunate in my career,” said Hutchinson. “I never had to go to work. I got to go to the gym.”
Yet work she did. As a graduate student at ISU, her research shattered the myth that full court 5on 5 basketball would be fatal for women. She hooked electrodes to basketball players with no ill effects proving a woman’s heart wouldn’t explode by running a fastbreak. This led to a change in rules instead of six-player game to the full court five-player game.
As first generation Title IX athletes, competitive sports for girls was so new that we came into university with raw talent, true grit and a love of the game. We were in awe of Coach Hutchinson. For the first time, we had a female role model. Everyone who played for her wanted to do right by her. Most of us remained in contact with her long after graduation.
When my former Olympian teammate, Charlotte Lewis, died of a heart attack in her early 50s, Jill spoke at her funeral.
Another, incident shows the depth of Jill’s caring. I left the States in 1980 to play basketball in Europe. Three decades later, my Franco-American daughter raised abroad returned to the States to combine sport and academics as part of the DIII program that Hutchinson recommended. My daughter, Nathalie, played for Shirley Egner, another highly acclaimed coach at UW-Stevens Point. Hutchinson attended their match-up at Illinois Wesleyan and stayed afterward to meet Nathalie. Then Jill passed on to my daughter the poem that I had written her, during my senior year at ISU, about a coach’s role shaping athletes into adults.
Coach Hutchinson, coach Egner & Nat
Hutchinson was ahead of her time. Long before sports psychology existed, she invited a psychiatrist to teach us progressive, relaxation technique before a big game.
In the day before assistants, Hutchinson was a one-woman show. She thought nothing of driving her team cross country in campus station wagons. She tracked down gyms without GPS, and followed weather reports and speed trap warnings from truckers on CB radios. She fielded winning teams on shoe-string budgets, fighting for practice space, athletic equipment and opportunities to compete. She planned practices, organized travel, scouted opponents, and fought on national committees for women’s rights. She mimeographed handwritten scouting reports detailing game strategy and opponent players’ strengths and weaknesses. Every game she scrawled individual notes to each player. Hutch had an uncanny ability to motivate players and that motivation never left us.
Her legacy lives on in the hundreds of players whose lives she influenced and in their daughters, who never doubted their right to succeed in any arena!
When I saw the espnW interview with President Obama coaching his 10-year-old daughter, Sasha’s basketball team, I cried; it reminded me so much of my dad and me. However, forty years ago, dads teaching daughters jump shots were anomolies. Most fathers discouraged daughters from playing ball games because society deemed it unladylike.
Like my dad and I, first the President cheered on Sasha from the sidelines, then he offered pointers to the team at the White House on Sundays and, finally, he coached the team from the bench, shouting aphorisms my father once pronounced, « Work the ball inside. Don’t take those crazy long shots. »
“Girls just take it for granted,” President Obama said, “and maybe that is a good thing that girls grow up knowing they have equal rights on the court.”
But it is hard to appreciate what you got.
Four decades ago, when my dad hollered,” Quit marching down court like a battle line. Spread the wings. Get ahead of the ball,” my team learned how to fly on the fastbreak.
Slowly, times changed. In 1977, five years after Title IX’s passage, my dad co-coached my younger sister, Karen’s team to a first ever high school state championship at my alma mater Illinois State University.
1st girls Illinois State Champions
My dad shaped values in the athletes he nurtured during his 33-year career at Sterling High School. His endearing relationship with his championship girls’ team earned him the affectionate title of Papa Mac. In his four years of coaching girls’ basketball, my dad’s teams racked up, 1 State championship, a 3rd place and an Elite Eight appearance. Then he retired, but not before girls basketball put Sterling on the map. Championship teams brought honor to the town and high school, but what made Papa Mac proudest was seeing how his athletic girls grew up to offer contributions to society as principals, teachers, social workers and leading members of their communities.
When I was 10 years old, I dreaded my 11th birthday because I thought I would have to exchange my high tops for heels, forfeit my dreams and stop shooting jump shots. Papa Mac helped open the door of athletic opportunity for me and my younger sisters.
“Play hard, shoot straight, aim high!” he encouraged.
Four decades later, our 44th head of the nation echoed those words. President Obama deemed it important enough to take time out from running world affairs to coach his daughter’s team. That example speaks volumes about how far we have come.
“I am a huge believer that sports ends up being good for kids, and especially good for girls. It gives them confidence, it gives them a sense of what it means to compete. Studies show that girls who are involved in athletics often do better in school; they are more confident in terms of dealing with boys. And, so, for those of us who grew up just as Title IX was taking off, to see the development of women’s role models in sports, and for girls to know they excelled in something, there would be a spot for them in college where they weren’t second-class, I think has helped to make our society more equal in general,” the President said.
Coach Mac in action
“I think the challenge is making sure that, in terms of implementation, schools continue to take Title IX seriously … and I think understanding that this is good, not just for a particular college, not just for the NCAA, [but that] it is good for our society; it will create stronger, more confident women.”
Remarkably back in the controversial years when Title IX was in its early infancy, when girls and ball games were non compatible entities, Papa Mac’s adamant belief in women’s right to participate in sports empowered all of his daughters.
Happy Dad’s Day Papa Mac and, oh yeah, thanks for the jump shot, too!
When I was growing up, I lamented the lack of opportunities for girls and would have loved to hone my skills at camp. The summer after my freshman year at Illinois State University, ISU, I complained to my friend, Sterling High School Coach Phil Smith.
“I found a camp for you to go to,” Phil said.
“They don’t have girls’ basketball camps in the area.”
“I know—it’s a boy’s camp. Lee Frederick’s One-on-One.”
The first day, Phil made sure the boys would let me participate. I lined up behind the guys who were a head-and-shoulder taller and 40 pounds heavier than I. I learned how to spin, dribble behind my back and between my legs. I developed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s sky-hook. The boys beat me every match up in the one-on-one, but I never gave up. At the end of the week, the guys took home their medals and trophies; I left with bruises and a bunch of new moves.
“Girl, whatcha been doin’?” Charlotte Lewis, our six-foot-three, one-hundred-eighty-pound, All-American Olympian center, said that next season. “I can’t stop ya no more.”
The day I beat Charlotte one-on-one, I knew I’d earned my starting position.
Phil, ahead of his time, suggested we start our own local camp. McKinzie-Smith Girls Basketball Camp was born and ran for a decade. The first year, we handed out t-shirts with the words BASKET printed above an image of ball and awarded a trophies of male figurines shooting hoops. No one minded; girls were too happy to be having their own court time. Then we became more sophisticated, developing a better t-shirt design. With Phil’s business sense and coaching knowledge, our camp grew successful. In later years, we called it Lead Up Camp focusing on developing individual skills much like they do in camps now.
Even with all the options available, I would still recommend attending my alma mater, Illinois State University, where girls’ camps have been held since the mid ‘70s. Stephanie Glance, Coach of the Year Missouri Valley Conference, and Jamie Russell (Rock Falls star and transfer from Wisconsin) who became the All Valley First Team Newcomer of the Year, are sure to offer valuable tips.
What affects more Americans than diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome combined?
Over 2 million Americans fall under the umbrella of brain developmental disorders referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders. ASD creates social and behavioral challenges, which often include repetitive mannerisms. Researchers are yet to identify the cause, but attribute it to a combination of genetic make up and environmental factors.
Every spring, since 1970, the U.S. celebrates National Autism Awareness Month, so before April slips away I wanted to get on board. http://www.autism-society.org/
Although the exact cause of ASD remains a mystery, what specialists do know is that the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. The CDC estimates as many as 1 in 88 children or 1 out of every 54 boys and one out of every 252 girls is born with ASD.
Statistics indicate that more than ten million individuals are afflicted worldwide. Five years ago the United Nations declared every April 2nd as World Autism Day. Across the continents, people are encouraging others to stand up for autism to increase awareness and funding for research. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csYs_aSXFcQ
Unfortunately in many parts of the globe, autistic children are institutionalized due to ignorance and lack of early intervention measures and public health programs. The more obvious signs of autism usually emerge between the age of 2 and 3 and behavioral therapies can be most effective the earlier the disorder is diagnosed. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html
A career change in my teaching role led to work in my school’s learning support department, which coincided with a time when I became more limited by illness and a medical treatment that required minimal light exposure and maximal eye protection. While walking in the shadows, wearing black glasses and gloves, I bump into obstacles. I am forced to see the environment through different parameters too. Working with special kids is a great fit; I am a quirky adult.
Everyone who has ever worked with ASD individuals knows that every step forward in understanding their universe is a move in the right direction for they may not have the capacity to understand ours. To comprehend the world of autism demands infinite patience and persistence, but the rewards are immeasurable.
Please take time to witness the triumph of an Asperger’s boy and basketball. Stand up and raise the roof for autism!