This one thing could keep your tween girl in sports

Thanks to Chris Deacon for her excellent journalism in the Sept 6 issue of Today’s Parent. Her article follows!

Studies show that girls start quitting sports in the tween years—this solution might surprise you.

Growing up, Juanita Lee ran track and rowed, but her sport of choice was tennis. She played the game from age six until age 14 when— seemingly overnight— her breasts grew from a 32A to 34DD.

The change immediately set her apart from her more petite, flat-chested opponents and made the teenager extremely self-conscious. She hated the sensation of her breasts moving when she ran on the court and how exposed she felt in her scoop-neck tennis dress whose padded cups only accentuated her size. And because breasts move independently of the body, (both up and down and side to side,) Lee also started experiencing breast pain, an issue she was too embarrassed to discuss with her parents. Not long after, Juanita used a sports injury as an excuse to quit tennis altogether and turned her attention to rowing, where breast movement wasn’t an issue, and running, a sport that—while still painful—meant she could wear baggy t-shirts for coverage.

Lee isn’t the only girl whose breast development has affected their participation in sports. In a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 British girls aged 11 to 18, nearly three-quarters said their breasts got in the way of enjoying sports. According to the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, when girls hit puberty they start pulling out of athletics and skipping gym class to avoid the pain and embarrassment of breasts that are either too big, too small or —the chief complaint—too bouncy.

It turns out there could be an easy fix—a sports bra. While a given for professional female athletes, this undergarment is often omitted from the equipment list of girls’ sports teams. And while jockstraps are offered to boys for protection and to prevent discomfort caused by excessive movement during exercise, sports bras that serve the same purpose for girls have not been a part of the cultural conversation. In fact, only 10 percent of girls surveyed in the British study had worn one.

So how can a parent navigate the tricky terrain of breast development and sports with their tween? Here are five tips:

Start the conversation early: Your daughter may not need the support of a sports bra yet, but it’s worth tackling the topic early on, before she gets embarrassed about it. If she’s not ready for the discussion in the moment, MaryAnne Gucciardi—whose company, Dragonwing girlgear specializes in performance base-layers such as sports bras and support tops for girls aged 8 to 17, encourages parents to stick with it. “It’s a hard conversation for a parent,” she says, noting that dads in particular, have a hard time with the topic, “but it’s even harder for a child. They don’t know yet what they need. They just know what they’re feeling.”

Be matter of fact: Gucciardi also suggests sticking with the facts when broaching the idea of a sports bra. “You could say something like, “I want you to play your best. I want you to feel comfortable, and have good support to prevent injury and stay healthy and just like boys with a jockstrap for support and to prevent injury, this is what girls wear,’” she says. Explain to you daughter the difference between your average tween bra (which often looks like a sports bra) and the real thing. Most tween bras are made with thin cotton and flimsy straps. A good sports bra, by contrast, has smooth but stretchy fabric that moves as the athlete moves, with straps and a band that stay in place.

Shop it alone: While the odd girl might enjoy looking for a bra with her mom, most don’t, says Gucciardi, so parents should start the process. One idea, she says, is to buy a few different styles of sports bras and support tops and leave them in your daughter’s drawer—while keeping in mind she probably won’t model them for you. “She might have you hand them back and forth until she finds one that she likes,” she says, “Be patient. If you let her control the conversation, then she’ll feel in control of her body.”

Go for fit: Thirteen-year-old Melanie Paulson’s* parents have been helping her shop for sports bras since she started developing breasts in Grade 4, with little success. “I don’t find them very comfortable,” says the avid hockey player, who now shops in the women’s section. But many women’s sport bras are padded which makes breasts look bigger—the last thing most tweens and teens want. And Gucciardi cautions that an improper fit—caused by a bra that’s too big— can lead to back problems. “You could have a bigger bust but a small rib-cage,” she explains, suggesting that parents seek out sports bras that are specifically designed for tweens and teens, and that take this silhouette variation into account so that the fit is precise. Lululemon, Nike and Gucciardi’s brand all carry quality sports bras for this age group. Look for a fit that is snug but not tight with straps that don’t droop or slip. And if you’re buying online, it’s worth taking the time to measure your daughter and refer to the size chart rather than order the size that corresponds to her age. Parents should measure just under the rib cage to get the right fit as opposed to across the chest, and, when the bra is on, be able to fit not more than one finger under the band. The band should be as wide as possible while still being comfortable for your child.

Comfort is key: Gucciardi recommends quality sports bras that use high performance, moisture wicking fabric (that moves the sweat away from the skin) with mesh for coolness and breath-ability. “Girls get super embarrassed when they think they sweat and smell and that people notice it,” she says. Also look for thin, removable pads for coverage and softness. “Nipples showing is another source of embarrassment,” she says. Nipple chafing— especially common with runners— is also an issue. Finally, choose a sports bra that’s seamless and tag-free to prevent irritation.

Now that you’ve got a bra for your daughter, can you really expect it to be the difference between giving up sports and staying in the game? For Juanita Lee, now 27, the answer is—absolutely. “I was kind of a shy kid and I never felt comfortable saying, ”oh, my boobs hurt.” she says. In grade 10, Lee got her first sports bra at the suggestion of her female rugby coach, and she played rugby until the end of high school.

*Name has been changed.

Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

For the Dragonwing team, this video makes us emotional – especially when Jock Semple tries to pull her out. Kathrine’s quote “all of a sudden this was very important … nobody believes I can do this.. and if I don’t finish, people will think all women can’t.” she finished in 4 hrs and 20 min. KV Switzer (and whoever wears #261 -how lucky are you!)

You can watch the video here.

Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

Concussions important issue for girl athletes-updated info here

There have been many articles and efforts to improve safety on the soccer field for women and girls.  As an update to our posts of six years ago, I provide new information on prevention and training alternatives from Cindy Parlow Cone and Excelle.com

Our original articles are here:

Don’t be fooled by common misconceptions about concussions.

A great article on concussions from Taylor Twellman.

Recovering from a Climbing Concussion

and new information can be found here:

Pro players speak out about the ‘absurdity’ of the concussion protocol in women’s soccer

Check out these excellent video on the what Cindy Parlow Cone’s experience learning to head the ball at 18 -and still being a World Cup Champ and Olympian!

http://bit.ly/2t0FV3P

http://bit.ly/2u5o9MP

 

Happy Birthday Cindy Parlow Cone

Happy birthday to Cindy Parlow Cone, three-time NCAA Women’s Soccer Champion and founding member of the Women’s United Soccer Association, former head coach for Portland Thorns FC and in her first year as coach in her first year as head coach of the Portland Thorns, led the Thorns to the NWSL Championship. Parlow was a member of the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic, and 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cup, teams. Parlow Cone played professionally for the Atlanta Beat for three years and was the Coaching Director of 13-18 year-old girls’ programs at the Triangle United soccer league.  Cindy is a co-founder of Goals for Girls.  Birthday –May 8th.

Last Firsts from a Soccer Mom.

It is that time of year for parents of high school seniors when we’re enjoying the last -firsts of many club and high school events.  Last first soccer game of the year, last first day of the last semester, last club night.   Looking back at all the things I’ve learned, I’ve decided (rather than wallow),  I’d share a few of the most useful lessons.  From the importance of chocolate milk to the recruiting process.  Make sure to catch next few blogs.  I’d love to hear your stories and tips too!

Here’s to team Glow Angel -where it all started, and to the coaches, parents and friends I’ve made on the fields.

xo

MaryAnne

Black History Month: Celebrating Serena Williams!

Sharing stories about women athletes matters. Equally important, hearing stories of amazing women athletes matters. One of my favorite legends is Serena Williams. To celebrate Black History Month, the artist Simone Grace is creating a coloring book with portraits of 28 amazing black women and one of the world’s greatest athletes, Serena Williams is featured.  Simone is my friend and classmate -and when I asked her if we could share this page with our community of athletic girls and their parents, she generously and ecstatically agreed. You can get a free printable coloring page here!

Check out all the illustrations of visionary black women who are luminaries in politics, arts, activism, business and sports. Coloring is a fun, empowering and relaxing activity for all the strong girls and women in your life and makes a great gift! You learn more about Simone Grace and how to get the entire printable coloring book at the GoFundMe page here.

xoxo
MaryAnne
Founder of Dragonwing girlgear

mosaic

 

My Daughter is So Happy! — Early Product Review

kickstart_banner

We are super excited to share an early product review of the new Racerback Cami that we launched on Kickstarter.   Sara from Ohio’s daughter loves it — and we think YOU will too.

“For the past year, I have been looking for the perfect cami for my 11- year old daughter.  My daughter is not quite ready for a bra but definitely needed something with more coverage than the cotton cami with a shelf that she has been wearing daily under her shirts.

Recently, I received a sample of the Dragonwing Racerback Cami to trial with my daughter.  I am thrilled to say that I have finally found the perfect cami!!

My daughter has never loved a cami so much!  She tried it on for me and was beaming.  The padding in the cami really made her feel more confident and it looked so nice under her shirt. Some of the features of this cami that we love are:

– The material keeps her cool and dry, so it is perfect for any activity.
– The straps are adjustable, so she will be able to wear it for quite awhile and adjust it as she grows
– The racer back design is great for her posture and looks very sporty.
– The padding can be removed for washing or if less coverage is desired.

My daughter wants to wear this cami every day now, so I have been washing it constantly. Even after 10+ washes, the cami still looks as good as new. I am so excited that these camis are on Kickstarter now. I plan on stocking up and buying more in multiple colors. Thank you for creating such a high quality product that makes my daughter feel confident with her body.

Sincerely,
 Sara
(Mom and Devoted Dragonwing Customer in Ohio)
(Here is the link to copy and paste) http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bdc62bad8e8c76ee6345a9241&id=2ee2defbf0&e=

Summer Fencing

Hi! I’m Julia, a Dragonwing ambassador. My summers have been known to be very busy, and this coming summer is no exception. I start by going to Dallas, Texas, for fencing summer nationals, where I will be fencing in four events. Each event is long and tiring, so I am lucky that they are each two days apart.

To help me survive the exhausting events, I wear my light, breathable Dragonwing clothes that keep me comfortable and performing my best. In Dallas, any time I don’t spend competing will be spent rehabilitating my knee injury or resting.

After Dallas, I have three days at home until I go to Massachusetts for a month for a journalism program and then a marine biology program, two of my favorite subjects. Lastly, I’ll be going to Poland for ten days for a fencing program with many fencers who belong to the same fencing club as me. There, we will do more intense training after a month-long break, and I will have my Dragonwing clothes to keep me cool and comfortable. 

In a previous blog post, I talked about my knee injury and my “Road to Recovery.” It took nearly a year, but I am now back to training and competing as much as I ever did. However, I will have to continue physical therapy in order to keep training as frequently and intensively as I can.

julia

Surprise Surgery & Another Recovery

April was one of the most surprisingly crazy months for me yet. Earlier in the month, I was at a climbing competition doing just fine and trying my hardest. But when the comp ended and my mom and I were driving home, I got a big headache, felt horrible, and started to throw up. I had lots of pain, especially on the right side of my stomach.

Sudden and unbearable pain on the right side made me think “appendicitis,” which made me feel even worse. Shortly after we got home, my parents decided I needed to go right to the Emergency Room. Everyone was super worried. I was in too much pain to get into the car, so my dad called an ambulance, both for the speed and because I’d get pain medication as soon as possible. At the hospital, I waited for five hours and couldn’t eat or drink anything, which was difficult since I’d just finished a competition. After an ultrasound and CT, the doctors decided to transfer me to the Children’s Hospital so I could have surgery. Yes, that’s right — surgery — but not on my appendix. They’d found a cyst on my ovary that was basically “exploding.” Three small incisions were needed to fix everything.

three small incisions on Madi's belly after emergency surgery

I’m happy to say the surgery was successful, and I stayed in the hospital for three days. It took a while to be able to walk without being nauseated, but finally I regained my strength and was discharged!

It was a rough couple of weeks not being able to climb while I recuperated. If you’ve been following my blog, you know this isn’t my first recuperation. I’ve missed most of the important training for regionals, which are coming up on May 14. I’m going to have to work my butt off to rebuild my endurance and strength in the next two weeks. I’m looking on the bright side and telling myself I’ll be able to compete in regionals unlike last season.

In other news, school is almost out — only 4 weeks left! I really hope the summer will pass without any injuries!

This Sports Headband Really Won’t Slip!

Three more months of school! I can hardly believe I will be a freshman next year. I’m already really excited for high school and connecting with more people. Sadly only one of my friends is going to the same high school as me but, that means I get to make some new friends.

Another great thing that will happen in high school is that my sister will be able to drive, which means I won’t be late to rock climbing (at least, less often I hope!)

Getting back into rock climbing after my concussion has been going great. We’ve been preparing for rope season by practicing falls. Yes, we actually practice falls! When we practice for falls, we climb up the wall and then fall over and over again.

Teen Ambassador Madi rock climbing at gym

During recent practices, I’ve been wearing my Dragonwing Stay in Place Mini Headband, and it didn’t slip off my head once! I totally recommend this sports headband to every athletic girl. I still love my Dragonwing sports bras, too. Here’s a picture of me when my Racer Sports Bra arrived!

Madi was all smiles when her Racer girls sports bra arrived

We’ve also been working on our first attempt-best attempt by “onsighting” routes. Onsighting is when you make a clean ascent without prior knowledge of the route or problem. I finally sent my first 11+ project on lead bottom to top — with only a little bloody nick on knuckle. Success!

Before break our middle school had an award assembly, and I was named to the honor roll! Working my butt off to catch up with assignments after my concussion paid off. And seeing the smiles on my parents’ faces was great!