Girls’ high school sports have come a long way, but life lessons are same

5 years ago

To the editor,

It is the season for high school basketball, and as a former player for four years, I wanted to share my personal high school basketball experience. As a native of Fort Fairfield who first played as a freshman at the high school in 1972, I have witnessed great changes in girls’ athletics over the years. Acknowledgement, budgets, priorities, equality, and uniforms, have all improved for the girls varsity sports.

As a freshman, it was extremely exciting when our high school added a girls’ athletics program for the first time. This thrilling news stirred up a lot of enthusiasm in the school and many students were anxious to try out for the basketball team.  

Newly hired Coach Peters also would teach our health and physical education classes. Our school and town demonstrated an abundance of support which included a full basketball team roster for its first year season.

The budget, however, was limited and required our gym suits to become our actual playing uniforms.  We were grateful anyway, and made the appropriate adaptations, using white masking tape for our numbers on red cotton, one piece, snap up front, gym suits. These restricting suits were not comfortable, or attractive, but supplied us the necessities as an official basketball team.

In addition, our gym floor was freshly painted with appropriate school colors, red and white lines with a center court Tiger mascot.

Coach P dedicated countless practices, emphasizing conditioning, hustling, free throws, basic layups, and positive attitudes; essential game winning factors. We were all determined to give our best, to prove ourselves to everyone involved.

The relentless support from loyal fans was overwhelming, as basketball was very popular and held great pride in our northern communities. For our last home game, our high school band played as we paraded the gym floor jumping through our decorated paper hoop making our big entrance.

Although our basketball season involved a building year, we always played with heart, pride, respect, and good sportsmanship. It was a life changing and spirited four years of high school with girls varsity athletics; including softball, and field hockey.

These sports provided many enriching memories and gratifying experiences for me. Sports aren’t for everyone and there are other beneficial avenues, but I learned priceless lessons that have carried me through decades. Competing and participating reinforced my values in accountability, commitment, respect, and responsibility.  

In comparison to past and present, the changes and improvements have been enlightening — the budgets have increased and there now are sports broadcasters, television coverage, multiple coaches, and both home and away uniforms.  Girls athletics have grown leaps and bounds and inspire generations to challenge their potential.

Today’s goals still are consistent with the past for playing with positive attitude, self-confidence, leadership, and teamwork, all important life lessons that will deliver the best winning scores.  

CJ Orser