I must admit: I used to proudly call myself a tomboy. I never really knew the proper definition, but I decided the word defined me since I enjoyed activities that the rest of the world didn’t think were “suitable for girls.”
I would sometimes joke about being my dad’s first son because before my two brothers were born my Dad and I did everything together. I would help him shovel snow, fix things around the house; I even learned how to change oil and tires at a young age. (Ironically enough, I have a car now and don’t remember how to do any of it.)
And how could I forget my two childhood best friends, both of whom were boys? My mom loves to tell the story about how once she was babysitting another kid from the neighborhood and expected us all to play nice. She came to check in on us in the play room and realized that the fourth kid was missing. Her frantic search would lead her to find the poor guy under the upside bin that I has been quietly sitting on, smirking.
Being the “token tomboy” would become a common theme in my life. When I was 8 years old, my hometown of Orange, N.J., couldn’t find enough girls to play T-ball. So it was decided that I’d just have to play with the boys instead.
Everything about that season is a blur but I distinctly remember the mothers of my teammates cheering louder for me than they did for their own sons. I was that cute little girl who kept hitting the T instead of that actual ball (for the record, my dad says we were all equally terrible), but it was okay. I stepped up the plate every time, proud to be the only girl on that team. For that reason, those moms were proud of me as well.
My love for sports has not waned as I have matured into a young adult. While girls my age had started experimenting with makeup, my dad and I would be playing 2-on-2 with whoever was at the park that day. Basketball was how he and I bonded, and I loved it.
In retrospect, society has defined a lot of my childhood activities as “boyish by nature.” Nevertheless, my upbringing prepared me for the realities of the world I live in. Whether it was ballet or basketball, I developed into a well-rounded individual because my parents didn’t allow society’s standards define what their daughter could do.
At Boston College I found my sports journalism class to be a microcosm of the world that would lie ahead. In this case, two women floating amongst a sea of men. But I was ready. I was used to being the only girl by now and I knew I was just as prepared as my male counterparts.
Throughout the years I've had a countless number of men ask me a variety of questions, whether they be normal or strange. My answers to these pop quizzes would apparently determine if I’m qualified to ever talk about “sports,” a course I’ve studied my entire life.
“Okay, so you think you know sports? Well answer this: What are the names of Tom Brady’s three dogs?”
As a woman, my credibility is half that of a man in my field. I'm expected to know ten times more, and receive ten times less the amount of respect.
The truth is, being in sports media is like T-ball all over again. Whether I’m in a team locker room or at our CSN studios I continue to find myself being one of the few women in this continuously growing field. Most of my teammates are males, but we all have one goal in mind: To share our knowledge/love of sports with others.
I will continue to step up to the plate and represent for all the girls who will come behind me until our teams are as balanced as they should be.
I'm no longer a tomboy, just a woman whose experiences have led to one conclusion:
Women can play, talk, report, analyze, manage, coach and love sports and we can do it just as well as any man.
And guess what?
There’s nothing abnormal about that.
P.S. No, I will not answer that dumb question about Tom Brady’s dogs. Go look it up yourself.