Sunday, February 5, 2012

Catching Jordan Guest Post

"Breaking through the Ranks: Jordan is symbolic for the many girls/women who choose to fight the status quo. What have some of your own experiences been like?"

When I was in elementary school, I wasn’t popular to say the least. Kids teased me because I liked Star Trek and science and animals and wanted to know how hurricanes worked. I didn’t know what the popular radio stations were and I barely knew which bands were cool. Some people at my school couldn’t believe I loved reading at night. Books and Discover magazine and National Geographic. I was a dorky, unattractive nerd who boys did not like.
But I was damned good at certain sports, like softball and volleyball.
For a long time in elementary school, when captains chose teams in gym class, it was all based on popularity. I was usually picked somewhere toward the end, even though I knew I could help the captain win games. I had proven myself. But no one ever seemed to notice because my lack of popularity hid my talent.
Then in sixth grade, I made it onto the school’s volleyball team. We were going to play the teachers in a game right before holiday break! Only eight kids were on the team: four boys and four girls. One of the boys was named Josh, and he was extremely popular, but had always been kind to me.
So one night our team went to Open Gym night, to practice so we could beat the teachers. I was practicing my serve – I was the only girl on the team who could do an overhand serve, and it was awesome. A fifth grade boy called out to Josh, “Wow, she’s good!” And Josh replied, “I know she’s good.”
And that was the first time in my life I really felt worth something when it came to sports. I smiled and smiled, and when we played softball in the spring, Josh picked me first when he was captain. When anyone questioned him, he replied, “Have you seen Miranda bat? Or seen her play third base?”
He was a truly good person and a good friend, because he saw my strengths and focused only on them, disregarding any pretense he may have had toward my popularity. I remember in junior high, he wrote in my yearbook, “Stay cool until the Next Generation.” That was incredibly corny but I loved it, because he knew I loved Star Trek: The Next Generation and accepted that about me, that I could like something other kids at my school didn’t like.
In my book CATCHING JORDAN, seventeen-year-old Jordan Woods loves football. She’s been playing the game for a long time and the guys all accept that she loves the game. Her friends don’t question it. She’s the captain and quarterback of her school’s team because she’s proven herself to be a great player and a capable leader.
Early on, when test readers were reading the book, they wanted to know, “Why does Jordan like football so much?”
I couldn’t really answer that. Jordan loves it, so she plays. Isn’t that enough? She likes running and the strategy involved. She likes leading a team. She likes running in for a touchdown.
If I say I love Mexican food, people don’t say, “Tell me why you like Mexican.” If I say I love figure skating, people don’t ask me why. It’s okay that I like those things because it’s normal for a white woman in American to like chips and dip and sparkly leotards.
But people do ask why Jordan’s into football, just because she’s a girl. I know that’s the sole reason.
My view is that people should do what they are good at. And even if they aren’t amazing at something, they should do it if they want to. If they dream of doing something, then they should work toward that dream, tackling obstacle after obstacle.
People will respect that. Maybe not all people, but a good portion will. Besides, you should do what you want to do.
That’s what Jordan Woods does, and that’s what I try to do every day. You should too. And if it ever gets hard, just remember those special people in your life who believe in you and your skills, regardless of sex or race or social status.
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