News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 30, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: Today’s girls have more opportunity than ever

Liz Ciancone
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I confess. I had a bit of a battle with the green-eyed monster the other morning. The newspaper had pictures of high school girls playing soccer with a team from another school, and with obvious joy and pleasure.

I was pleased for them, of course, but envious too. Back in the dark ages when I was in high school, interscholastic competition was simply unavailable for young women. We had something called “The Girls Athletic Association”, or GAA, but this was strictly intramural play. We played other teams in our school, but forget about traveling to Plano or Sandwich or Oswego to match ourselves against girls from another school.

Our gym classes required that we suit up in “gym suits”, dreadful-looking, one-piece, electric-blue jobs which looked like leftover bloomers from the turn of the century — the last century. They were also available in a sort of tomato-worm green, but most of us didn’t go there. We would hop around the gym in our outfits playing volleyball or what was known as “girls rules” basketball. In the spring we got to go outside to play volleyball or soccer in our tastefully modest outfits.

I was never a devotee of GAA. As far as I know, or remember, we never had meetings. Our get-togethers were in the gym and played with other students.

I know girls today have many more options. I remember how desperately I wanted to run track. Sometimes in the spring when we were released to the outdoors for gym class, I would sprint around the track. If the low hurdles, for the boys, had been left out, I’d run those too. Our gym teacher frowned on that arguing that young ladies didn’t do track. I’d get hauled back to the volleyball net wondering why young ladies couldn’t do what they wanted to do.

We did get to play soccer as part of our intramural fitness training. I never really understood why that was suitable for young ladies and running was not.

So, it is with mixed joy and envy that I watch today’s young women who have options. I think it is wonderful that they are allowed — even encouraged — to follow their own athletic star. I’ve even had a vision of myself crossing the finish line at the cross country events at the Sports Center.

But my vision doesn’t mean that I’ll be wearing those blue bloomers.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to