Category Archives: On Athletics

Just a Color

Dance life deep into the dark night with the stars the keepers of your fate. No, you take its keeping. And the music of the peepers is the keeper of our salvation… In the end, there is one dance you do alone. – Millie Sutton (from an inscription in my high school yearbook)

It was the evening following Stoneleigh-Burnham’s graduation, a time normally given over to celebrations and parties. And indeed, part of our group was planning on stopping through on the way to or from one of those parties. But a solid core of us had decided to spend the entire night at the Greenfield Relay for Life, which happened to fall on the same date as our graduation that year. When I arrived around dinnertime with my tent and sleeping bag, I found a festive atmosphere. There was music, food, decorations, and a fire (s’mores!) around which many of us were sitting and talking. Several members of our team were out on the track at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, including Jess, the newly-minted alumna who (along with her parents Cyndee and Bill) was the driving force behind our presence. We had spent months holding bake sales, tag sales, car washes and more, raising money in every way we could think of. We had succeeded in meeting Jess’s goal of every single participant raising at least $100 to fight cancer. And now it was time to celebrate the newest SBS graduates, our group’s fund-raising success, and even more importantly, the progress that was and is being made in the fight against cancer.

One of the traditions of the Relays for Life is to line up luminaria alongside the track, their soft glow both lighting the way for participants and illuminating the names of both survivors and those lost to cancer. Although I prefer to run my laps during the Relay, I always take at least one very slow lap to read the names and honor the spirits of those who were and are loved so well. This year, I chose to do so during my 3:00 A.M. shift on the track while some of the students/alumnae were catching short naps. About three-quarters of the way around, I stopped short and my eyes filled with tears. I saw a sack with the name “Amelia Sutton” taped to it, written in simple block letters. I closed my eyes and envisioned my old high school friend, her smile, her laugh, the night before she left for college when she ordered “Superior” pizzas so I could stop by her “off to college” party as I made the delivery, the way her long skirts twirled as she spun her way through a too-short life. She was just 44 when she died.

I grew up thinking of cancer as something that could be serious but that could also be beaten. Though my grandmother was first diagnosed with breast cancer when my father was in college (and medical treatments, of course, were not remotely as advanced in the early 1950’s as they are now), she fought hard and achieved remission no less than six times before her eventual death at 74, nearly 30 years after her initial diagnosis. She was, and is, an inspiration. And I have many other relatives who have successfully beaten back cancer. When I hear that someone has been diagnosed with cancer, my first instinct is to think, “Okay, time to gear up yet again and win this fight.” So that night on the track, I was not just grieving for Millie, I was also forced to confront the fact that sometimes the fight is lost.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During faculty meeting when Jeff Conlon, our Athletic Director, shared the idea of getting pink uniforms for our athletic teams in support, there was a buzz of affirmation around the room. Already, Linda Beaudoin was planning to organize our community service club to help with the Greenfield Rays of Hope walk for the third straight year. Last week, on the top of Mt. Holyoke on Mountain Day, a number of faculty members were knitting pink scarves as part of the Rays of Hope tradition. When Sandy Thomas P’99 and Michelle Shattuck came to housemeeting to represent the Rays of Hope walk, they asked for a show of hands of how many people had had breast cancer or knew someone who had. Nearly every hand in the room went up. With that sobering image in mind, Stoneleigh-Burnham is proud to join with so many others to do our part and look to the day, as in the title of Kal Hourd’s beautiful song, “When Pink is Just a Color Again.”

-Bill Ivey, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School Dean


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Filed under Admissions, Alumnae, On Athletics, School Happenings, Stoneleigh-Burnham Middle School

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. Sort of.

“But two years ago, a year and a half ago, my oldest daughter, who was 4 ½, and my husband were watching UConn men, playing on the television in the living room, and my daughter walked in the room and looked at the TV and said to Steve, ‘Are those boys playing?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And my daughter said, ‘I didn’t know boys played basketball.'” – Rebecca Lobo

The UConn women’s basketball team has a long, strong tradition of excellence and is inarguably one of the driving forces in popularizing women’s basketball over the past two decades. Rebecca Lobo is a major part of that tradition. After graduating, she was one of the founding members of the WNBA, the longest-running professional women’s league in U.S. sports history. She now works for ESPN as an analyst focusing on the WNBA and women’s college basketball  and was inducted this year into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Born in 1973, she is one of the first generation of girls to grow up in the Title IX era. In many ways, she epitomizes the progress that has been made for women athletes over the past four decades.

As many of you may know, the current UConn team has won 87 games in a row. That includes two staight undefeated seasons and an average margin of victory of 33 points. Back at win #71, they broke their own record for the longest winning streak in women’s college basketball history, and they are now closing in on the longest winning streak in college basketball history period – 88 games  set by John Wooden’s UCLA men’s team from 1971-1974.

So I was delighted to see a recent copy of “TIME” magazine had an article on the streak and quickly flipped the pages to read it first. I was stunned, shocked, and appalled. The article on one of the greatest teams in basketball referenced no less than five men, including a baseball player, before finally including a woman in the 6th paragraph. Renee Montgomery, the star point guard who now plays professionally for the Connecticut Sun and TEO Vilnius in Lithuania, was quoted on… PMS.

As Jeremy Deason, SBS Director of Athletics, succinctly put it: “Ugh.”

In her blog article “Sports Authority,” Teacher Leaders Network member Nancy Flanagan muses on an unlikely connection, the sports and edublogging worlds, stating, “Sometimes, ed policy world feels like the jocks’ table in the cafeteria, however–men tossing out stats, men wrestling with contrary views , men confidently making strong opinion plays and engaging in a little verbal back-slapping.” and continuing to quote and analyze a variety of sports metaphors in what I saw as as tongue-in-cheek attempt to quote-unquote “get the guys’ attention.” Ironically, one of the men commenting on her blog wrote, “your lack of background knowledge of sports caused you to miss my point,” detouring the conversation away from the role of gender in both sports and blogging, calling her out for not being a sports expert  and in the process unintentionally making one of her points.

So it all comes down to women’s voices. Girls’ and women’s sports have indeed come a long way, and there is lot to be proud of. That Rebecca Lobo’s daughter takes it for granted that girls play basketball well is just one example. But as long as the sports world continues to be dominated by men’s voices (75% of ESPN viewers are male) and as long as many of those voices, whether consciously or unconsciously, diminish the achievements of female athletes and exclude female fans, we still have a long way to go.

references [the TIME article online]
Twitterers can follow Renee Montgomery at @Da20one

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