November 20, 2011
Androgynous Athletes or Just Girls?
It’s midafternoon, class-bound students are passing each other in the halls, and all I can hear is loud music secreting from two large oak doors with fogged glass. I peer in through the slightly ajar door to observe something amazing. A circus of sorts was hiding just outside the hallway. Flipping, jumping, spinning, and tumbling, in every direction I looked. Metal apparatus stretch high into the sky with silhouettes of strong bodied females gracefully swinging from bar to bar. On my left an elevated floor with more scattered females charging down a path of blue mats concluding with cartwheels and back flips. To my right a more
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I imagine most of them to be like the general student body once out of the locker room, but in the gym they stood alone. I watched the girls move from one exercise to another wondering if they could see through the chalk filled air. It was a mix of construction site, jungle gym, and a dim lighted warehouse all enclosed by cinderblocks. The girls’ aggressive attitude was clearly matched by the strong structure containing it. I watched the girls approach the high bar with a look of sheer determination. One girl after another goes through her routine while the others cheer them on screaming, “come on”, “you’ve got it”, to motivate a strong finish. The last girl began to walk towards the bars, her body pensively pacing back and forth circling her arms in fast motion. Whatever was about to happen must be big, not just for her, but clearly the team as the room went silent. She flowed from one bar to another attacking each move with fluidity and just cause. Ten feet off the floor she began preparing for her dismount from the top bar. She was astonishing. Her clear stature made her standout every time she took to a new exercise.
No sooner I blink I heard a loud slam. Like ants on food the girls swarmed around her. She got up, maneuvered her limbs to rearrange any disjointment, and jumped right back up. She began the entire routine over from start to finish and didn’t hesitate as she approached the recent, tragic part of the last attempted dismount. Her feet