Play like a girl…even if no one’s watching

Times Observer photo by Brian Hagberg Slippery Rock fans tailgate prior to the District 10 4A softball championship game between Warren and Slippery Rock at Penn State Behrend, May 25, 2018.

During Super Bowl XLIX, Always brought its #LikeAGirl campaign to the biggest stage in marketing. Super Bowl commericials have become the stuff of legend and one of the biggest makers of feminine care products stole the advertising spotlight.

The 60-second spot began by asking a group of people (men, women and boys) to demonstrate what it means to perform specific activities (running, throwing and fighting) “like a girl.” As expected, the responses were not flattering. Then a group of young women were asked to perform the same activites. They ran, threw and fought just as you would expect their male peers to do. One girl was asked, “What does it mean to ‘run like a girl?'”

Her response was eloquent in its simplicity.

“To run as fast as you can,” she said.

As the father of two (at the time) young girls, the spot resonated with me. It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind ever since, and anytime someone tries to tell my now three amazing children they can’t do something because they’re female, I’ll have the ad queued up within seconds.

Either that, or maybe I’ll just bring them to work with me.

One thing that’s become glaringly obvious to me over the last year-plus is that Warren County has some really, really good athletes.

And most of them are women.

A quick glace at the top of the sports page today is simply the latest example. The ladies of Warren County are simply dominating all over the field, court, diamond, pitch, etc. We’ve got all-staters, region players of the year, district champions and state medalists and more region all-stars than I can count.

But here’s the rub, we’re missing out on their greatness.

We’re not turning out for their events like we do for the guys.

I wrote in the fall about the impact the famed Flannel Panel had on Warren volleyball’s comeback victory over Villa Maria in the District 10 semifinals. It was definitely great to see that level of support for a team, especially after witnessing limited attendance across the county during the regular season.

Unfortunately, it seems that playoff support was the exception instead of the rule.

Attendance was limited for both Eisenhower’s and Warren’s district soccer playoffs (the monsoon both played in during the games they were eliminated notwithstanding), and girls basketball attendance (outside of games involving two county teams) was nonexistent.

I had mixed emotions watching Margo Loutzenhiser score her 1,000th career point this year. Obviously, I was ecstatic for her. She’s a phenomenal player and even better person and is more than deserving of every accolade she’ll eventually get. But at the same time I felt for her. Her coaches and teammates were there to mob her on the court. Her peers? Nowhere to be seen. Community members? Sparse, at best.

I understand to an extent. The general consensus seems to be that the girls game is “boring.” I get it, I really do. Used to feel that way myself many years ago. But with some maturity (I think) and better understanding, I’ve come to realize that’s not the case.

Not. Even. Close.

The Lady Dragons played some of the most thrilling and exciting playoff games I’ve ever witnessed. Unfortunately, Andy and I were about the only Warren residents not directly tied to the team who saw them (credit to my classmate and her parents for coming out. You know who you are).

I got back to the Times Observer just after the spring sports season ended last year. I was rather disappointed in my timing since I missed some great performances. Some of those were on the track, most notably Eisenhower sprinter TerryLee Talasky.

I caught a glimpse of TerryLee’s speed during the soccer season, but didn’t realize exactly how fast she is until I covered my first Ike track meet. Not only can she absolutely fly (check out her three state medals if you don’t take my word for it), but she makes it look effortless. If you follow Eisenhower sports and didn’t take the time to watch her run, you really missed out.

There were also spectacular performances all over the diamond. I don’t think Ellie Lobdell met a hitter she didn’t strike out, Rebekah Hogg has power for days and Marissa Grubbs is one of the most composed young pitchers I’ve seen in some time.

But again, every game I covered had limited attendance. The lone exception seemed to be the District 10 title game between Warren and Slippery Rock. Championship games always tend to draw more people, but my goodness, Slippery Rock had fans tailgating in the parking lot.

It seems like Warren County teams are constantly making playoff runs and exceptional individual performances abound. Don’t take them for granted. Go see these kids while they’re here. Let them know you’re supporting them and appreciate all the hard work they’re putting in.

And ladies, know regardless of anything else, there are three pairs of eyes in one household who are watching you and aspiring to be like you. For yourselves, for them, for your fans, continue to “play like a girl,” even if you think no one’s watching.