Game On!

Alex Reibel

Pivotal, world-altering, moments are hard to forget. We remember where we were, who we were with, what we felt, and identified the possibilities that these defining moments could lead. July 10th, 1999, was one of these moments. 

On that hot day in Los Angeles, the #USWNT beat China in final of the Women’s World Cup. The game came down to penalty kicks, with Brandi Chastain scoring the winning goal and her subsequent celebration in her sports bra was the happiest, most exuberant moment ever in sports. While not in the stands of the Rose Bowl among the 90,000 record-making crowd, I watched the game from my living room with my daughter napping in my arms. She was barely 2 years old at the time. 

This historic win broke open women’s sports, smashed glass ceilings, and catapulted Title IX’s impact. When Title IX passed in 1972, I was the exact age as my daughter was when Chastain ripped off her jersey.

FIFA Germany 2011From the moment my daughter was born, I knew her potential was unlimited. This was cemented in the final, stressful moments of penalty kicks during that 1999 World Cup final. As my daughter started to walk, then run, I signed her up for multiple sports. She quickly settled into soccer as her favorite. Soccer dominated our lives: posters of Mia Hamm, attending women’s professional soccer games, meeting Carli Lloyd and other #USWNT members over the years continue to inspire my daughter and millions of young, strong girls around the globe.

The same sport is also loved by her two younger brothers. We attended the Women’s World Cup in Germany during 2011. It was during this trip that my 10 year old son watched the women who dominated the field of play with intensity and respect. On that trip, I felt like my job was done as a mom: my son appreciates women’s sports.

My daughter became a goalkeeper and ended up loving to defend penalty kicks. Her reasoning for this was data-driven: all the pressure is on the kicker, most pk’s result in a goal, but if she could sense the correct direction once in a while, then her lifetime stats defending them might be pretty good. Her resulting stats were better than average, earning her a D1 experience. She not only played soccer on IU Women’s team, she was a member of IU Women’s rowing team (thanks, Title IX). 

Alex Reibel, IU Soccer

Fighting for gender equality, with “equal pay” being chanted at the end of #USWNT game, is at the top of the list for societal change. The attention to LGBTQ freedoms and acceptance is another very important issue that the #USWNT is unapologetically championing. Watching #USWNT continue the fight for equality and speaking out for women’s rights with an intensity of focus as strong as their play on the pitch redefines multi-tasking. 

Witnessing history can have an indelible impact. I hope July 7th, 2019 is one of those dates. The magic of these moments is identifying the possibilities of the ripple effect. Little girls around the world are watching.

1 thought on “Game On!

  1. Well written Kara, and I completely agree. It is past time for women of the world to take leadership roles in all aspects of life, most importantly in positions of political power. I have often said that the world should be run by a Councile of Grandmothers. What a different place it would be…

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Kara Kavensky

Kara Kavensky