Why am I thankful for Title IX? Let me count the ways ...
9. I have large muscles. OK, well, not really; Brandi Chastain has all those (and we were lifting partners, you know). But I love that I feel strong and confident and fit.
8. There are no stars upon thars. I learned firsthand that sport is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter your size, shape, color, make, model or tire tread ... we all can play. The ball doesn't care if you have a star on your belly or not.
7. Sports gave me my voice (and some probably wish I had played an instrument, instead). As we can all recall, being a teenager is no easy feat. Actually, being an adult isn't, either. But sports taught me to speak up and stand up, not sit down, when it mattered.
6. I can carry on animated conversations about sports at the watercooler with men, or at least pretend to.
5. I can sing karaoke in public (badly) and not get embarrassed.
4. For over three decades, I was surrounded by amazing teammates who taught me that winning is important, but sports is also about unity, laughter, dreaming, growing, persisting, dancing and believing.
3. When my 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son shout, "I am a champion!" while racing against friends, I smile knowing they both indeed have the opportunity to be champions in whatever they choose to do.
2. I sometimes get free dessert in restaurants ... and for that I am forever grateful.
And the No. 1 way Title IX has impacted my life:
1. It taught me to love the skin I am in. To be me. To celebrate others. To smile rather than panic in moments of adversity. To explore. To take risks. To act rather than react. To approach each day with a smile.
And that is the reason I will always be a huge advocate for Title IX. It is about so much more than sports. Title IX builds the wonderful combination of internal strength and external perspective for the millions who have benefited from this law.
Thank you, Sen. Birch Bayh and Rep. Patsy Mink for introducing legislation 40 years ago that changed the landscape, academically and athletically, for women.
When I once asked Sen. Bayh why he so vigorously supported Title IX, he replied with a smile, "Why would we want any different for our daughters than for our sons?"
Amen to that.