By Jeff Davidson,
In 2017, the U.S. women’s soccer team lost to a Dallas soccer academy team of boys, whose top age was 14 years. This was not a formal contest, and you could say that not much was on the line. The young boys, however, won 5 to 2. Since then, in other contests against boys’ teams, women’s teams have lost. All of which brings me to the topic of girls’ sports and who qualifies to play in them.
The Best Baseball Hitter I Ever Saw
I am a dad, and when my daughter, Valerie, was four years old, I began pitching to her in the backyard. We started first with wiffle balls and a wiffle bat because it was easy for her to swing a bat that was so light. Soon, keeping the bat, we switched to tennis balls. I would pitch to her underhand, but progressively started pitching faster and faster.
We had a back stop so that if she swung and missed, the ball would hit the back stop, bounce back to me, and I could pitch again. As time wore on, I began pitching to her faster and faster. I also bade her to swing from the left-hand side. I figured that with her being that young, she wouldn’t know the difference.
Sure enough, by the time she was six, she was hitting equally well as a lefty and righty, a complete switch hitter. I also had been throwing progressively faster. She was hitting the fastest pitches I could throw, and I could throw fast. I had been a pitcher in the Babe Ruth League when I was growing up. I could strike out grown men.
As Fast as I Could Throw
One day, when my best friend, Peter, was visiting in North Carolina, I threw a round of pitches to him, and he had extreme difficulty in making contact. And make no mistake, he was a top athlete: a Babe Ruth League and American Legion baseball star, and a wide receiver in college football, with arguably pro potential.
I then had Val pick up the bat and do her thing. He was amazed. She would whack the ball with regularity. Neither of us had seen anything like it.
By age 8, she was so skilled that I had to enroll her in the girls 9 to 12-year-old league because I feared what would happen if I enrolled her in the 7- and 8-year-old league. She would smack line drives up the middle. No one would be able to catch them.
Doing it All
Even at age 8, playing with girls up to four years older than her, many twice her weight, Val was a decent player in the 9- to 12-year-old league. At 9, she was better, at ten, she started to become a star, and at 11 and 12, she was unstoppable.
Play short-stop if the team needed it? Sure, fill in at third base, sure. Pitch a little? Yes. Play the outfield, why not? Val could do it all. At 12, she was still more slender than any of the other girls. There were 10- and 11-year-olds bigger than her. Val had skill, however, for every phase of the game. Other girls who had been pitching for years did not have anywhere near Val’s accuracy. When ground balls got hit back to the pitcher’s mound, she would field them and throw to first, as if it was nothing at all.
One night, I took her to see the Durham Bulls, a Minor League Baseball team and the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. There was a contest in 2 categories for the fastest pitch thrown: 18 and under, and 12 and under. The 18-and-under winner for girls was a 17-year-old from somewhere in eastern NC who was the star pitcher for her high school softball varsity team.
This 17-year-old threw 49 mph and won a custom Bull’s baseball cap. The 12-and-under winner that night was my 11-year-old daughter, Valerie, who threw 47 mph. Six years younger than the high school senior varsity pitching star, Val was able to throw within 2 mph of her. Val, however, took it all in stride.
Today, with the prospect of biological males competing in women’s spots, I would not enroll a young daughter at all. The distinct possibility of incurring jarring injuries as a result of playing against or alongside pre-pubescent males with inherent superior upper body strength would be more than enough to not take that risk, especially in baseball. I sympathize with young transsexuals who want to compete and at the same time, perhaps they did not think through all of the ramifications of their momentous choice.
I hope enough parents of young biological female athletes fully comprehend the ever-present dangers involved, and that the officers of girls’ leagues in every locale across the country have the smarts to keep the girls’ leagues for girls.
By Jeff Davidson
Jeff Davidson is “The Work-Life Balance Expert®” and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management.