What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Wendy Thurmond.
An Open Letter to the Lady Who Shut My 8 Year old Daughter Out: I am a disappointed, bewildered, angry mother who’s daughter has been shut out of a youth sport. I never thought enrolling my 8 year old daughter on February 1st for spring lacrosse, would be considered late, but it is was. I sent an e-mail asking for my daughter to be added to the waitlist. Here’s what I got: “I will put her on the waitlist but, unless someone drops out there will not be room for your daughter.” That was it, clearly no room for negotiating. Town lacrosse for girls begins in third grade. I thought youth sports were supposed to be fun and inclusive, a chance for young kids to be exposed to various sports. In fact, the girls lacrosse website in my town says its “mission is to promote girls lacrosse in an environment that emphasizes fun, while developing skills, teamwork, good sportsmanship and integrity.” I am taking full blame for my tardiness in regards to enrollment, but my 8 year old daughter shouldn't be the one to pay the price. My son has never been turned away from a sports organization in town, even if I’ve been late to sign him up. I am a firm believer in sports providing a strong component in young girls make-up. It doesn’t feel like the ‘gatekeeper” of girls lacrosse in town sees it that way. I understand teams get to maximum capacity, but this is third grade. I’ve never played lacrosse, but I’d be willing to help if the program’s short on coaches. I would like to think the program would open its arms to all willing girls, in hopes of making them strong women down the line. 70% of kids drop out of organized athletics by age 13. At a time when youth sports are seeing kids drop out in droves, it’s a dangerous thing to be turning them away before they even begin. The Changing The Game Project says it best; “coaches, you need to wise up as well. You are the gatekeepers of youth sports, the people who play God, and decide who gets in, and who is kicked to the curb. You know the incredible influence of sport in your life, so stop denying it to so many others.” To the woman who shut my daughter out, what would you have hoped be done if this was your daughter? I would like to think you would want someone to handle your case with a wee bit of compassion, knowing not all moms are super organized. As a the mother of a daughter, looking to gain confidence through sports, I beg of all you at the gate, let our daughters in. For so many reasons, the world will be a better place.