Monthly Archives: October 2021

All I Wanted Was to Play the Sport I Loved

In 1972, women celebrated the enactment of Title IX which prohibits gender discrimination in any school or educational program receiving federal funds.  Suddenly, schools and universities were required to invest in sports programs for girls and young women.  Title IX opened the door for female athletes.

Because of Title IX, Pat Summitt led her teams to 1,098 wins, more wins than any other college basketball coach.  Many of her student-athletes turned pro after graduating and became stars in the brand-new WNBA.  

Because of Title IX, there were school programs that trained our gymnasts who went on to win dozens of Olympic medals. 

Because of Title IX, our colleges continue training soccer players who join our national women’s soccer team. The USWNT has won 4 World Cups, 4 Olympic gold medals, and 8 CONCACAF Gold Cups.  They are the world standard in women’s soccer.

Title IX isn’t perfect.  Women’s college sports still receive fewer resources than the men’s programs.  Women are still forced to wear obscenely sexist uniforms.  At the recent Olympics, a women’s volleyball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of the official uniform which looks like a g-string and pasties outfit for strippers.

Our national Olympic committee doesn’t appear to have noticed the shorts scandal, which isn’t surprising considering how they’ve handled the whole Dr. Nasser pedophile mess. Our Olympic committee spent years ignoring or discrediting the teen-aged gymnasts who reported Dr. Nasser’s sexual abuse of them. 

Now a similar scandal has erupted in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).  A handful of players allege sexual improprieties against a widely respected coach. The players also allege that team owners and the sport’s governing authorities either ignored their allegations or leaned on them to keep their mouths shut for the good of the league and their careers. 

Why were these girls and young women ignored and discredited for years? Institutionalized sexism, reinforced with conservative religious teachings, assumes that females are always to blame because they “must have been asking for it” or they lured a hapless male into becoming a sex offender. Never mind that the male offender is often an authority figure who is violating his fiduciary and legal responsibilities, as well as common decency. 

Title IX was intended to bring an end to unequal treatment of girls and women in sports.  Almost 50 years later, that hasn’t happened but at least they are finally being heard.  Let’s hope this means the future is brighter because girls and young women deserve better when all they ever wanted was to compete in the sport they loved.  

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle ( which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (

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The Other Side of the Couch – Pandemic Gift

Backyard Birds

The days are already shortening, and the air is occasionally brisk if one arises early enough.  Yesterday as I worked at my desk I watched two squirrels fighting over the bird seeds that had fallen from the feeders – each determined to be the most successful.  A territorial mockingbird has hovered over the feeders at times as well – the smaller birds seem to just give way to this larger and certainly more vociferous creature – they come back when the mockingbird departs.

Watching the birds and wildlife from my window during the last eighteen months has been both solace and lesson.  It’s a small window really, looking out on a little slice of green, some shrubs and a holly bush.  Farther away across the sidewalk path is an oak tree, and farther on are steps and the landscaping and front doors of neighbors.  Few people actually pass this way – so the wildlife is mostly undisturbed.  We have even seen an occasional deer.

I often pause during the day and watch the unfolding drama of survival as the house finches, cardinals, black-capped chickadees, Carolina wrens, blue jays, robins, occasional bluebirds vie for life sustenance.  The squirrels have become adept at defeating the so-called squirrel-proof feeders and perform acrobatics on a daily basis just to get to an occasional reward.

I don’t remember a time before the pandemic when I took the time to sit and watch the panorama of life go by.  I have always been on the go, a doer, completing tasks, getting things done, being organized.  I noticed this morning that I unconsciously create little patterns that streamline the smallest tasks – bunching together the steps it will take to put things in the recycle; making sure I stop at the trash on the way – I do this without much thought.

This way of being has actually served me well over the years – and yet, and yet – as I watch the birds and take time to just be, I am grateful for this unexpected pandemic gift – the gift of slowing down, of taking time for nothing more than being present.

When this challenging time ends – and I do believe it will either end or become mitigated in some way so that we will be able to once again be out in the world – my hope is to hold onto this gift, this experience, of being more centered in present time.  In the end present time is what we have – the past is gone; the future is not here – so I will delight in my birds and squirrels and in being here in this world, at this moment in time.  May we all be so blessed.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 30+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at
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Wolves and Elk and Moose, Oh My!

Grand Teton National Park

I have just returned from my first vacation in over two years. Planning was a challenge, but so worth it. My husband and I, along with our dear friends, spent nine days exploring Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands and so much more. We began planning early in the year, before any of us was vaccinated, with the idea that if travel was inappropriate or not safe, we would cancel. After learning just a couple of months ago that our guide was unvaccinated, and was not planning to become vaccinated, we scrambled to find a substitute. The result was a memorable adventure that restored my soul and let me breathe in air that can only be found in the widest of open spaces.

Day one found us hiking to the hidden water falls at Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Forest. The six-mile trek took us over rocky, hilly terrain around the lake, through forests of Aspen trees just turning to golden yellow. As we made our way, the clear lake reflected the bluest sky I have seen in a long time. By the time we returned to our van, I felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and ready for more. And for the next week and a half we got so much more.

Our visit to Yellowstone began with a drive through the pre-dawn hours to watch the sunrise over Lake Yellowstone. Upon arrival we were greeted by a mother Elk and her baby serenely grazing in the grass while the sun began to peek over the horizon. The air echoed with the early morning cries of Elk waking and greeting each other throughout the park. As daylight broke, we witnessed the herd all around us as they wandered down to find food. Simply magical!

We made our way to perhaps the most famous landmark in Yellowstone: Old Faithful Geyser. A sign let us know when the next eruption was expected, and we wandered around the geysers until just before. As we waited, other geysers spouted plumes of boiling water that had made its way to the surface over thousands of years. Old Faithful did not disappoint, either. The eruption lasted for three minutes, sending plumes of water high into the sky above. The rest of the day was spent viewing geysers and thermal pools throughout the section of park known as, “The Caldera,” the area created by volcanic eruptions over the past 2 million years. Everywhere we looked we could see steam rising from the pools’ bubbling surface. The largest, Grand Prismatic, glowed blue, red, orange, yellow, and green. It felt prehistoric and otherworldly.

Another highlight found us the next day rising even earlier to participate in a wildlife safari. We began in a section of the park known as Lamar Valley, home to wolves, grizzlies, elk, moose, and many other species of animals and birds. Daybreak found us perched on a small hill about a mile and a half from a group of young, sleepy wolves. Once again, the air rang out with their morning howls like a symphony surrounding us. Our guide was equipped with special binoculars and scopes that allowed us to witness the activity from a safe distance, nearly two miles away. We watched as three young wolves frolicked, waiting for an elder to bring them their breakfast. Throughout the day we followed the Valley’s roads as our guide received updates from his network of scouts reporting on the latest sightings. We watched a solitary female moose run through the woods in search of her herd. We saw pronghorns, or antelopes, grazing as they stayed safely away from the wolves. We also witnessed bison during their rutting, or mating, season, fighting with each other to claim their favorite female. Above soared hawks, eagles, and magpies.

Later in the week, we made our way to South Dakota where we viewed the majestic Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and hiked into Badlands National Park. The Badlands was originally home to Oglala Sioux Indians. As homesteaders spread out through the area, the U.S. government stripped the Native people of their land and sent them to reservations. Badlands is the site of the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. There is, however, much beauty in the area. The rough looking terrain boasts tall spires and pinnacles and is home to the once endangered black footed ferret, which was reintroduced into the wild. The area is also the largest mixed grass prairie in the country. Dramatic and stark, the Badlands was a highlight for me.

There were so many memorable experiences and sights along our journey. What sticks with me the most is the sense of freedom after many months of confinement and restriction. I am awestruck by the beauty to be found in our country and a bit ashamed I have spent so much time exploring the world without ever looking in my own backyard. This trip inspired me to see more, do more, and interact more with the United States. I will always remember the cries of the elk and wolves, the fragrance of pine forests and the feeling of success as I climb a high peak. And while another vacation may be months away, there is much to explore in my own little corner of the world. See you out there!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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