Soccer match was pre-Chanukah present for this dad
By Gary Rotto
EL CAJON, California–Hanukkah came a day early for me. On Thursday, I had the pleasure of watching the first San Diego Jewish Academy Middle School Girls Soccer game of the year. I’ve coached soccer for 8 years.
Soon after embarking on my coaching “career”, SDJA decided to initiate a Sports Booster Club. As the parent of a then-elementary school student, I was seen as a neutral party – someone who did not have a child on any school sports team and therefore, did not have a favorite team. So I became the first President of the Lions Athletic Sports Booster Club.
Our board sought to stimulate attendance at the high school football games, raise a little money for sports equipment such as weight room equipment, a batting cage and other non-budgeted athletic needs. My goal was to make sure that both boys and girls sports programs would be treated equally – from encouraging attendance at the football games to rallying support for the girls’ volleyball team. The weight room was a non-issue as the equipment would be available to all SDJA athletes.
When growing up in New Jersey, I don’t recall a girls’ sports program – or at least it was an afterthought. I have a vague recollection of the high school girls’ basketball team playing with six players on the court, but only two players could move out of the defensive zone. I recall my cousin Amy, the best jumper shooter I ever saw having to play on a “club” team at the University of Texas because the school did not have an official women’s basketball team. I couldn’t understand why young women didn’t have the same opportunity as me and my friends.
So for the time in which my daughter attended the SDJA elementary school, I made no secret of my desire to assure that not only would the boys’ sports thrive, but that the school would pay attention to the girls sports. If the program would develop and thrive during these years, a strong program – both boys and girls – would be in place for when my daughter and her classmates entered the Middle School years.
So several years after stepping aside, after many times attending SDJA girl volleyball, boys soccer, girls soccer and boys football games, here I was on the visitors’ side of the field in El Cajon. And there was my daughter in on the field for the first time representing SDJA at an away game. And she was asked to start in goal. And the boys watched on the sidelines, supporting the girls. And some of the boys asked if we would stay for the second game to cheer them on when they would take the field.
I could think of no greater gift – to see the two teams support each other, travel together to other schools and compete on an equal footing. And I felt as though I had received a bonus gift with my daughter playing in goal.
Go Lions and Chag Sameach!
Rotto is a freelance writer based in San Diego. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=1504