May 6, 2011

They may have been invisible, but our girls played sports, too

Leaders Club photos from 1960 (top) and 1961 yearbooks. Miss Montgomery was the teacher.
Click on pix to enlarge


We've read a lot about the guys' sports activities here in this blog. However, despite the absence of Title IX, sports took up a fair amount of time for many girls at Division Avenue High School, myself included. This started in gym class.

I remember Miss Montgomery, a kind of gentle giant of a woman, calm, encouraging, and a good coach. She was in charge of the Leaders Club. The 1961 yearbook states: "Chosen for excellence in their gym classes, the members of the Leaders Club perform special duties. Under Miss Montgomery's direction, they officiate at games and learn advanced sports techniques, as well as develop the quality of leadership - the main objective."

One of the biggest attractions of belonging was getting to a wear white gym suit, instead of the awful, usual pale yellow ones. Looking in that yearbook, I see what might be the reason for the existence of this club. Under "Sports" there are only boys' sports. Girls only appear on the sports pages as cheerleaders. I wonder of this changed in later yearbooks? So perhaps the Leaders Club was meant to give girls some much needed sports attention and prestige.

Many of us participated in intramural sports. The big ones for me were field hockey and basketball. I never was one for softball or tennis, like some of my friends - too much standing around in the hot sun. No, it was field hockey for me because, well, you just don't want to mess with a young woman wearing a kilt and running as fast as she can with a stick in her hands.

Of course we did play other schools, although no one paid attention or came to our games. This was the most enjoyable part for me. Our innate, but seldom expressed, female competitiveness came out in our encounters with other schools. Unlike the guys who have written, I honestly cannot remember the details of any games - just the experiences. Sure, defeats were not happy, but it was the game and skills that mattered, at least to me.

On the way home from away games, we girls would sing and harmonize to current hits. "In the Still of the Night" was a favorite. If we won the game, it was cause to sing louder. If we lost, the singing was a consolation. DAHS did not have a pool, so there was no swim team, which was one of the areas where women later began to develop more competitiveness.

I am ashamed to admit that sports was another thing, besides Girl Scouts, that I left behind when I moved to Plainedge after my sophomore year. I was too concerned about my image in my new school. But girls' sports did exist at DAHS and were a great way to be with best friends, make new ones, and get to know girls from other schools. Oh yeah, and develop leadership skills.

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