When she was in 6th grade, there was a race. It was the first time in the history of that school that boys and girls ran together. The coach was thrilled when girls signed up to run. With the preliminary races complete, it allowed him to show the demographics and how entirely equitable the program had become. It meant more money for the school and more money for himself.
The last race came, four runners: three boys and a girl. The boys complained to the coach. They didn’t want to run against her. They didn’t want to hurt her feelings. They were boys. Of course, they were going to win.
The girl was happy when she ran. She felt free. She felt good. She laughed as the air pushed her hair out behind her. Running was joy.
Line up: lane 1 boy, lane 2 boy, lane 3 girl, lane 4 boy.
Ready, Set, Go…
The fastest boy, the one they knew would win was in Lane 1, on the end. But who would be 2nd, 3rd & 4th?
The girl was next out of the gate and holding her own. Until the boy in lane 4 pulled on the girl’s shirt, then the boy in lane 2 pulled on it too. The boy in lane 2 kicked her in the calf. She slowed for a second. The boy in lane 4 put his arm out to hold her back.
The coach yelled, 1st Place, Lane 1. 2nd Place, Lane 4. 3rd Place, Lane 3. 4th Place, Lane 2. The boys all gave each other the high-five.
The girl looked at the coach. “That’s not right.”
“That’s just the way it is,” he said.
The boys laughed. They thought they had won. Culturally, perhaps, but in the larger scheme of things, they were the big losers.
Until the boys make amends, she decided to not run with them again. At any time she could run with them. But until the time when they make it right, she runs for herself. She’s free and she loves the feel of the wind in her hair.