Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Float like a Butterfly, Swing like a 'He'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Float like a Butterfly, Swing like a 'He'

Article excerpt

If someone had to describe me using only one word, that word would probably not be "athletic." Nor would it be "lithe," though possibly "limber." I have also, as yet, not been called a sports enthusiast. (Jocular, yes; a jock, no.) You get my drift. Verbal over manual dexterity, any day.

I don't remember playing softball when I was a girl. Kickball, dodgeball, basketball, yes. But all of those balls were hard. I should know: I was hit by them all. On a regular basis. There was also something called "underhanded baseball," I think, that we played, but that always sounded slightly nefarious to me. (I believe the name had to do with how the ball was pitched, literally, not metaphorically.)

But, you see, I have this daughter, and she's many of the things I never was but still aspire to be. The phrase "natural athlete" is the one that always comes to thought, followed by "graceful," "winsome," and "tough little monkey." She hits, she throws, she gets it. And, most amazing of all, she wanted me - the far- reaching but not-very-far-throwing writer in the family - to help coach her softball team this year. How could I say no? Are you joking? This is better than a PEN award.

I live in a town that is pretty much run by women - just ask any man on his way to the train station and he'll tell you the same. Our mayor's a woman, several of our village trustees are women, and quite a few board of education members are women, too. The men get a seat or two here and there, but if a woman walks in, he has to get up and give it over. That's just the way it is in this town, except in one regard - after-school sports. After-school sports have always been a dad's domain, and you could say we women are greedy not to leave things as they are.

Last year, a mom friend of mine was the assistant coach of her son's baseball team. She caught a lot of grief, but she didn't mind. Before she was a mom, she was a cop in the Bronx. She can take care of herself.

This year, another mom friend of mine decided she wanted to be head coach of her daughter's softball team. I said I'd be her assistant coach, if she promised not to laugh at me too much. …

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