"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.
you twist your ankle (a common occurrence for pasture runners)?"
wailed. "Those other girls are so fast and I'm so slow and fat." 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
"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.
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?
is up to you. You can't be in two places at once. You've got to make your own