For the first time, my mom came to a team event last week. It was a private showing of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. Professional basketball players, incredibly supportive fans, a daughter who coaches, and a mom from Iran were all sharing space to enjoy a leading actress’ super hero movie debut. Amongst the buttery popcorn, candy, and soda, an amazing story was being written under the surface.
My mom was born and raised in Tehran, Iran. She had an amazing career as a chemistry professor and Department Chair. Women are forbidden to play sports in Iran, so I have had fun showing her what the athletic world is like for women in America. She has come to games and follows my team in the news. I’ll get texts about her seeing segments on TV. She definitely appreciates what professional female athletes have built in our community and nationally. Like all fans, she even has a favorite player!
My mom is 63 and does what active women do. She loves swimming, goes on daily walks, and is intentional about eating a healthy diet. Being around my team of 5’10’’ to 6’6’’ women, who train at the Olympic level has been new for her. It has grown her vision for what is possible for women physically and athletically. Similar to a sisterhood, she feels like we all share the same mission in empowering women and developing role models for future generations. She sees me doing what I love as a coach and sees the team be successful. I know that the habits I affirm in exercise, diet, and social interaction help support her participation as an athlete as well.
It takes a village to cultivate a healthy lifestyle. The support and interaction of people who share the same vision matters. Her focus is on enjoying what getting outside of her comfort zone brings and sharing that with others. She is active, enjoys the outdoors, and creates new opportunities to share space with women who want the same things. She may not have grown up with the athletic culture that I did or played AAU, but at the wise age of 63, she is an athlete.
If it looks, swims, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. My mom may not have grown up an athlete, but she absolutely lives the life of one now.