Come back with me in time for a minute. Imagine being 14 years old, getting ready to enter high school. You really like a sport – say, volleyball. And you start asking questions about the junior varsity team, when try-outs are, how you can sign up. Now imagine getting a letter at home from the volleyball coaches. A letter that says that if you are more than 10 pounds overweight, maybe volleyball isn’t for you. And you are.
This happened. I don’t remember it, but my family does – vividly. I wanted very much to be part of the school volleyball team, and when that letter came home, my parents wanted to speak to the coaches. I mean, really, shouldn’t everyone have been encouraged to try out, and only be cut if they can’t do what is physically required of team members? I wouldn’t let them say anything, though. I insisted that they just let it go. And I never tried out for any sports team, then or ever. That was the beginning and end of my group athletics story.
Fast forward about 20 years, and one day I decided I was going to train for and try to walk a half marathon. There wasn’t anyone around to tell me I couldn’t do that, that I didn’t have the right size body, or that I needed to lose a certain amount of weight first. I crossed my first finish line on September 16, 2007. I have crossed 11 more since then. I became a coach along the way, helping others – of all shapes and sizes – to cross their first finish line. And I did all that while being way more than 10 pounds “overweight.”
You guys, this video made me cry so hard. The longer I watched it, the more overcome I was – with joy, at seeing all of these strong, striving, empowered women; with excitement, at being a part of it (see how many times you can spot me!); and with sorrow… Sorrow that I didn’t see this video when I was 10. When I was 14 and wanting oh-so-badly to join the school volleyball team and being discouraged from doing so by teachers. When I was 20. When I was 30.
I want everyone to see this. I want children, teenagers, adults – anyone who is convinced certain aspects of their lives have to be put on hold until they get smaller – to see this. I want parents and teachers, coaches, partners, lovers, friends, family, everyone to see this and share it and understand how vital it is. How it is the antidote to all those fitness commercials that leave me (and so, so many others) left out and wanting. How this is the inspiration so many of us want, and need, and deserve.
This is my fight song.
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion