“Dear Dragonwing Girl…” Wise Words From A Bad Cookie


Dear Dragonwing Girl,

I would like to start by saying you are amazing. No matter who you are, where you are, or what you have done to get to this point right now, you’re amazing. You have unlimited untapped potential and only the sky is the limit. I’m sure you’ve heard this before from loving grandparents whilst they grab your cheeks and squeeze you in a constricting hug, but right now- at this moment- I want you to read carefully. You are all the attributes I listed before and more; you are beautiful, strong, and smart and you can do everything you want to and more.

Despite you and I knowing these things to be true, some will doubt you. Some will doubt you without even knowing you, and some will doubt you right after seeing your name on a resume. These some will be men, but they will also be women. Most will do this unconsciously, and I implore you to not be angry at them for the ignorance and bias they hold. I implore you to fight the fight of being a career-driven girl in a world run by men.

Though it is important to not hold anger for the world being the way it is, do not conform to the need to be “pleasant” or “calm” or “collected.” You can speak out when you see small forms of misogyny in your school or workplace. Whether it be a man dominating the discussion, or a guy in your group making snide comments, you can step up. You can make your voice be heard because you won’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because you can.

So, stay strong because it can be hard sometimes. You might be called selfish or bossy or any other number of terms people like to use for women who don’t conform to their stereotypes, but if you struggle, if you stand your ground, if you fight for what you want, then we will be one step closer to gender equality.

Sincerely,

Your friend at Dragonwing girlgear, Abby

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

The “why” of Dragonwing girlgear.

kickstart_bannerPeople often ask me why I am so passionate about sports and girls and I have a simple, important reason – we need this generation of girls, now more than ever, to reach their potential.  Sports participation at any level is one path to actualizing potential –it is established and proven – we don’t need to create a new program or study its benefits.  But social expectations and social media are getting in the way of girls.  When I realized “the underwear experience” could have an impact, I had an aha moment that I could do something about it.

Let’s take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.  On one level of the pyramid is community or village – we all know and accept that it takes a village to grow a strong confident girl.  We are happier with friends, family, a team, a tribe.  Belonging is important.   Connections give life meaning (Brene Brown).  Sports provide a natural community.

The next level of the pyramid is self-esteem.  Sports build self-esteem in so many ways, such as setting and achieving goals, graciously winning, building resilience, pushing your comfort zone for what you think you can do and then exceeding it – just to name a few. For more on this, check out this TedEx talk by Alisa Herr.

Unfortunately, feelings about breast development are a top reason girls drop out of sports.  According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concerns regarding exercise and sports.”   75%!!!  That’s just not acceptable.  Starting and normalizing conversation about body changes can improve this.  Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but there is no comparable list recommended for girls. At Dragonwing girlgear, we provide girls that list and more.

Having an excellent-fitting, high-performance sports top – whether it is a bra, cami or thermal tee-shirt, that is designed especially for the athletic girl’s figure, can eliminate worries about underwear malfunction.  Embarrassment about changing bodies can alleviate concerns about body image.  At Dragonwing, we strive to free up emotional energy– so girls can focus on their game – and everything else they want to achieve… because when girls are confident, the possibilities are endless.

 

 

 

Rock Climbing through the Holidays

Hello Dragonwing girls!

I hope all of you are having a great school year and that Halloween was fun. It seems like a long time ago now!

This year, I dressed up as a tomato, by stuffing pillows in a big red shirt then putting on a green headband. Here I am with a few friends.

Dressed up as a tomato for Halloween

My rock climbing gym also put on a special Halloween comp for the youth programs. I was glad to place 2nd! The best costumes were worn by some kids who dressed up as our coaches.

Halloween girls at rocking climbing gym

I’m already looking forward to the next ABS regional championship, which is being hosted by USA Climbing on December 12.

I will happily be participating for my second year in this special competition and sporting my Dragonwing girlgear. Since this will be my second year in this competition, I think I will be more prepared and more confident in my climbing. I also think I’ll be mentally prepared with techniques my coaches taught us like smiling, ways to read the problem, spending time more efficiently, and breathing.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving holiday and break! I’ll be back in December!

My Mother Never Ceases to Amaze Me

Let me begin by saying my mother is the coolest woman I know. She is a loyal friend, dedicated teacher, and incredible parent. One of the greatest loves of her life is running, but she wasn’t always the talented distance athlete she is now. Growing up, she was an actress, French enthusiast, and a cheerleader.

When my sister and I were young, she ventured to try a running group and quickly began checking off races of shorter distances. One day, she asked to join her friends on a long run, and her dreams took off from there.

She’s finished 26.2 miles through the vibrant city of Richmond, along the beaches of Wilmington, and even across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. This year, she completed her third Boston Marathon with courage and grace — not to mention speed! She’s wearing a hat in the photo, but underneath she was wearing a Dragonwing Racer sports bra!

Celia's Mom and friend after finishing Boston Marathon 2015

I am so thankful my mom found an outlet for her powerful energy. I am also grateful she found a close circle of friends through her sport. With them, she’s completed 200-mile team relay events: the Blue Ridge Relay and Hood to Coast.

 

Blue Ridge 200 mile relay team

These women are all fantastic examples of strength, resilience, and bravery, and they support each other in running and in everything else.

Celia_RunBuddies

Next, my mama will lace up for the Berlin Marathon. The woman never ceases to amaze me.

 

Celia give Mom a post-marathon hug

Introducing Julia, Dragonwing Ambassador

Hi, Dragonwing girls!

I’m a new ambassador, and I’d love to tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Julia, and I just graduated from eighth grade, which means I’m saying goodbye to middle school and starting high school in September. I love school because I get to see my friends, but I also enjoy studying sometimes, especially when it’s math and science.

Julia: lunge in fencing tournament

My main passion is fencing. Fencing training and competing has taken up most of my time for the past five years, but I love to do it. I get to travel lots and meet competitors from all over the country, and now I always see familiar faces at tournaments. I have made amazing friends through the sport that I know I will keep with me for many years to come. During summer and winter breaks, I participate in sleepaway and day camps to train with new coaches and unfamiliar fencers.

JuliaT_fencing_stance

When I’m not fencing, I love to spend time with my friends and family. My friends and I walk practically everywhere, whether we are going to lunch or just to each other’s houses. (I like to think that it keeps us active.)

I also like to spend time with my family. One of our greatest passions is food. We are constantly trying new foods and restaurants. As my 16 year old brother just recently earned his learner’s permit for driving, he sometimes drives us to these restaurants (making me constantly fear for my life).

I hope this has helped you get a little sneak peek into the life of Julia. I can’t wait to share more about myself, as well as get to know all of you more!

Feel free to share this post and/or leave comments. Please subscribe to Sideline Chatter with your email so you don’t miss any updates or new posts — from me or our other Ambassadors.

No Texting and Swimming!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, high school swim season is just around the corner—Anna’s first meet is four days from now. Two friends and I are the volunteer “meet officials” for her school so we are in charge of the timers, setting up the computer, and making sure everything runs smoothly.

Anna’s school has a combined middle school/high school team, which at first glance sounds nuts, but it works. The middle schoolers (7th and 8th graders) pair up with “big brother/ big sisters” (upperclassmen) who cheer for them, support them, and help them acclimate to the team.

This is Anna’s first year being a big sister, and she’s taking her job as role model for a tween girl very seriously. She’ll be emphasizing team spirit, cheering for teammates, sportsmanship and helping clean up after the meet.

Tween girls go through a lot of changes in such a short period of time that life can get overwhelming for them. There’s sports, school, boys, and concerns about body image. In addition, today’s tweens are dealing with all the social pressures found in social media that we as parents never had to deal with. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat can add to social pressures and in some cases lead to isolation.

photo credit: Jim Bahn
photo credit: Jim Bahn

The blessing of swimming two hours a day four or five days a week is that phones and computers are not allowed near the pool—the kids can’t check Instagram while executing a flip turn! But more importantly, there is less time for social media. Swimming on a team, or participating in any sport, leads to real friendships and face-to-face conversations.

I know it sounds crazy, but as the first meet approaches I’m really looking forward to managing the meet with my friends and watching the girls form new friendships.

Mom, I Love Cross-Country

“Mom, I LOVE cross-country.” Ok. Wow.

I’m going to take a little detour here because I know Dragonwing sells sports gear for tween and teen girls, but today I’m going to write about my 7th grade son. D is an avowed “nerd.” He swam in the past because I made him and he could see his friends, but it wasn’t something he embraced. Most of his summer activity was whatever was going on at summer camp, summer swim, and watching Netflix.

He joined the (no-cut) middle school cross country team this past week. I want to note that the North Carolina weather has been high 90s with high humidity all week. On the second or third day of practice, he hopped into the car after practice dripping sweat with a bright red face. I braced myself for the complaint. “Mom, I LOVE cross-country.”

Pause. Deep breath. Inside, I was jumping up and down. “What do you like about it?” “I don’t know, it’s fun. We ran through the woods today and picked apples. The trails are fun and it was shady.”

I’m delighted. Beyond happy. Because everything we know about why sports are good for girls also applies to boys, especially the slightly nerdy, not your-typical-jock boy. Over the course of the cross-country season, D is going to benefit from teamwork, hard work, camaraderie, seeing his own times (hopefully) improve, and understand that running, as with almost any sport, can be a lifetime pursuit. And the beauty of running is its simplicity. As humans, we were designed to move and to run. It’s in our DNA.

I’m glad D is literally following in my footsteps. But even more importantly, I’m hoping he has found his “sport.” His go-to activity when he’s having a bad day or needs to work off some excess stress. The “runner’s high” is real. A long time ago, I wrote that no matter how bad a day was, as long as I completed my run, it was a good enough day.

For D, I’m hoping this cross-country season is the season where he discovers the joy of sports.

 

Back to School–A Parent’s Perspective

Following on Emma’s post about returning to school, I thought I’d write about “Back to School” from one parent’s perspective.

My absolute favorite thing about summer is no homework. Zilch, nada, zero. Summer evenings are less tense because we are out of the “get your homework done, eat dinner, go to swim practice, shower, go to bed” frenzy. On the other hand, the kids were binging on Netflix and made it to the seventh season of Supernatural. I am not proud of that.

I LOVE back to school shopping–all that promise with clean binders, new pens, folders, and the promise of a new school year. Everything is bright and new, and as Emma said, the kids seem genuinely glad to see their friends for the first few days.  A few months later, extraneous papers will trail out of my son’s binder and he will have lost several assignments, never to be found.

And as much as I love a lazy week, I’m also glad we’re back on some sort of routine though waking up is a bit tough. By 10 am I’m ready for lunch. However, never underestimate the power of a good power nap. This year Anna has “Emotional Health,” which I believe is a form of meditation often leading to a midday snooze.

And now that we’re back in a routine, my job search is kicking into high gear. My previous freelance gig terminated in July, so it’s now time for me to hit the ground running, resume in hand.

In summary, I have mixed feelings about back to school. I’m glad the kids have structure to their day, and they are being challenged by their teachers. I don’t like being the “homework police” so I’m trying to get out of that job and let my son bear the consequences. We’ll all get used to the early mornings and if not, Labor Day is just around the corner!