I look back now over forty-five years of regular organized competitive sports in my life. Staying in shape has it's own dilemmas, when you have minor birth defects and are uncoordinated. I began competing in sport by the spring/summer 1971. A time when the Billy Jean King's of the world struggled for recognition and funding for women's sports not only at the collegiate level, yet on a professional level as well.
As much as I've not been a tennis player, as I've been a runner, a grappler and a fighter; I have always appreciated people like tennis star Billy Jean King. She pushed for Title IX. And WE. Yes WE, us girls and women finally received the recognition we had always deserved. Billy Jean and others like her saw to it.
I met Billy Jean King, on a Monday night in a corporate center, in and around the area of Somerset, New Jersey. She spoke before the five kilometer race was to begin that night at seven. That was over twenty years ago. But I still remember that night. And to me, she was and is still a rock star. She equaled the admiration I've had for President Jimmy Carter. Even if we didn't particularly agree with his politics. It has been his being a humanitarian that we should all desire to be. It has been his desire for world peace, that we should all encourage others to want and for us to want as well.
Going back to Billy Jean King though, I was told a girl would never beat a guy in running, especially a girl like me with no talent. Especially, a girl like me. A ditch-digger's daughter. A girl who never went to Villa Nova, Stanford, Texas A&M, UNC, or Dartmouth. Neither could she, nor would she, instead knowing such. Knowing the one thing I could do was to serve. And if I served in a military area like being a US Marine and I survived, I knew I'd always be employable. So I followed through and became a Marine.
And still, as years passed, I was told a girl or a woman could never win a race outright over a field of men and women. Thusly, I won three races outright over the men and women later in life, in my early forties. A Fifty Miler in Detroit, on a mix of cross-country terrain in a wicked storm that produced tornados in the Midwest in November of 2002.
I won outright over men and women in a six hour trot till you drop trail terrain run in May of 2003. I then won as a first time Mom. I won outright over men and women in a Twelve Hour Trot Till You Drop run in 2004.