2009 NGWSD Essay Contest Winner - Morgan Conover

Title IX was enacted on June 23, 1972, thus changing American women's involvement in the sporting world forever. Although the bill's purpose was to eliminate prejudice based on gender in schools and activities that receive financial aid from the government, it made the largest impact in high schools and collegiate athletics. As a high school student-athlete, I can honestly say that without Title IX, my life would be very different. For example, instead of having the option of two hours of dodge ball hell with my goofy guy friends in P.E., I would be forced to participate in an activity that wouldn’t affect my feminine demeanor or be "detrimental" to my delicate health.

However, school isn’t the only place that I choose to play hard. I play on a recreational soccer team and an ASA Softball team called the Bellevue Blast. Participating on these teams not only keeps me in shape, but I have learned countless life lessons from the experiences they provide. I learned the value of commitment through softball, because at the beginning of the season, when you sign the little paper that says that you will attend every practice, you really have to mean it --aka, you can kiss your social life goodbye if these practices take place on Friday nights.

Even though my social life has definitely suffered, the camaraderie that I have experienced on these teams is well worth it. At practice, we evaluate every break up, and every petty drama that we are experiencing between taking grounders and catching pop flies. Not only is the advice I receive from my teammates invaluable, it also creates a sense of trust, knowing that you have a group of people who will support you even if you tend to drop the ball every now and again. Once that trust is established on a team, I often find myself working even harder than before.

I believe that I experienced this change in attitude because I wanted to improve as an individual, but more importantly, I wanted to work for the benefit of my team. This mindset has helped me set goals for myself in every aspect of my life, and realize the effort I must give to reach them. Over the years, softball has given me countless scrapes, cuts, bruises and a torn ligament or two, but regardless of the physical pain I've experienced, nothing is comparable to the raw adrenaline and pure joy you experience when you finally turn the double play you've been practicing all season long. Nothing is as amazing as coming together as a team to strive toward a common goal: winning. Without girls’ athletics, I would have never been exposed to the aforementioned experiences and learned the essential life lessons that have shaped my character, and molded me into the person I am today.

Morgan Conover
14-18 Winner