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THANK HEAVEN FOR....
Bil Gilbert
November 27, 1967
When it was formed last spring the Fairfield girls' track team ran in worn sneakers in a pasture and was coached by two volunteers who didn't know how to make a stopwatch stop. Now the team has real uniforms and has won a meet in New York, while the coaches have learned a lot about little girls
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November 27, 1967

Thank Heaven For....

When it was formed last spring the Fairfield girls' track team ran in worn sneakers in a pasture and was coached by two volunteers who didn't know how to make a stopwatch stop. Now the team has real uniforms and has won a meet in New York, while the coaches have learned a lot about little girls

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"Girls are a lot of fun," Don said, "but don't treat them like boys. They are motivated differently. They will run their hearts out, but first you have to get them emotionally involved."

Very shortly what Sterner was talking about became apparent. One Saturday morning while working with a group of ninth-grade ladies—would-be sprinters—I looked up to see one of their contemporaries, Debbie, standing against the pasture fence, sobbing. Now Debbie is a big brunette who in a few years is going to be a beauty, the kind who will walk through life to the music of wolf whistles. However, there is no disputing the fact that, at the moment, she is a very hefty 14-year-old, a bit on the awkward side.

"Debbie, did you twist your ankle (a common occurrence for pasture runners)?"

"No," she wailed. "Those other girls are so fast and I'm so slow and fat." Blub, blub, blub.

What would Erich Fromm do? What would Simone de Beauvoir counsel? "Debbie, stop it," I said. "There is something for everybody in track, if they want to work. We just haven't got the right event for you yet. How about trying the high jump?"

"I can't even skip rope." Blub, blub.

There is a happy ending to the Debbie story. After a bit she stopped blubbering and began to work like crazy at becoming one of those rare creatures, a girl distance runner. She is no threat as yet to Marie Mulder, but you can't tell. Never underestimate the power of a girl who wants to be svelte.

Robin, another 14-year-old, is something else again. She is a trim little bird who can run. We did not discover this virtue for several weeks, until after her father and I talked her out of wearing skintight shorts to practice. Prior to that she hadn't run very hard, for the legitimate fear that she would split her britches. Among other things, Don Sterner had promised to help us get started by staging an informal practice meet between his girls and ours. When the date for this event was announced Robin went into a tizzy. " Mr. Gilbert, I can't possibly go to Biglerville that day to run. Vicky's having a party, and I'm going to stay all night at her house."

What would Jumbo Elliott say if Dave Patrick begged off from the NCAA finals because he was going to a slumber party at Jimmy Ryun's?

"Robin, that is up to you. You can't be in two places at once. You've got to make your own choice."

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