Brooklyn attends an all-girls high school. Because one of their goals seems to be letting girls grow into women who aren't afraid to try new things and branch out of their little boxes, they have a policy that they don't cut freshmen from sports teams. They will cut girls as they get older, but only if there isn't room on the team. There is room on the tennis team.
1. Her team wears white skirts. Ok, so they are skorts, but I still have to smile when I watch them. Because it looks cute--but they are working hard. They could have shorts on. But tennis seems to call for skirts.
2. Except for one team (below), matches have been congenial and full of parents on both sides saying things like, "Nice point, ______ (other team)!"
3. Girls introduce themselves to their opponents and use each other's names.
4. There are no officials, which leads to the temptation to cheat, just fudge the teeniest bit. BROOKLYN NEVER FUDGES. And I've even heard her say, "are you sure it was out?" when she tires of certain opponents.
5. Like the opponent yesterday who called all the line balls out and then Brooklyn decided she was angry enough to beat her. And she did. "I'm not playing bouncy ball badminton with her anymore," she told me in the car later. But...on the court there was nothing but tennis.
6. The crowd is restrained. I love a rowdy soccer or basketball crowd. But tennis calls for silence and restraint. So we are all restrained together. And it's good.
7. When yesterday's team got on the bus and were terrible people, and had been terrible people the whole time, and whose coach shrugged at it all and said, "I can't control them!", our coach pulled our girls aside and told them how proud he was of their sportsmanship and integrity. And then today the athletic director showed up to the match and let us know that the team wouldn't be playing that school again. That was enough.
8. She plays on a new team (this is their third year) and this year has been so chill with no player drama. Zero.
9. She walked onto the team as a freshman and the coach taught her how to play tennis. It wasn't a prerequisite to know how already. And so now she has a lifetime sport in her pocket that she wouldn't have known otherwise.
10. And she's improving. Every time I go see her. She has a good eye and she plans her returns. Again: she knows how to do something I don't.
And that's my goal as a parent in the end.