It is no secret that I enjoy sports, including writing about the intersection of sports and my professional field of diversity consulting. And even in my own life, I started my journey, against all odds, of training as an adult competitive figure skater at the tender age of 59! (You can read all about this journey on my figure skating page.)
Recently (Sunday, April 29th) my spirit was uplifted by 3 wonderful stories in our Raleigh News and Observer sports section that prominently included diversity aspects. The three stories included a football star with a missing hand, a WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association) star experiencing new motherhood with her wife, and an immigrant African girl routinely beaten and growing up in poverty coming to America and becoming a college track star.
Here is a short look at these three wonderful stories:
1) Overcoming a disability. Linebacker Shaquem Griffin, after four years of playing on the University of Central Florida’s football team, was recently drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, where he will join his twin brother Shaquill. This one handed young man, with great speed, a knack for the ball, and an infectious enthusiasm, overcame the disability of a missing hand to become the American Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, and the first one-handed player to be drafted by the NFL. Link to full Orlando Sentinel Story.
2) LGBT Acceptance. WNBA star Diana Taurasi’s wife Penny Taylor recently gave birth to a son on March 1st. Heartwarming stories of star athletes becoming parents for the first time are quite common as “human interest” stories in the news, but societal progress toward acceptance of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people into mainstream society is demonstrated by the simple “matter of fact” “no big deal” way this story of the lesbians moms is portrayed. Link to full Associated Press Story.
3) An immigrant growing up with abuse and poverty. As a young girl in Ghana after her mother died, Amanda Agana was raised by an aunt who routinely beat her, smasher her fingers with rocks, and singed her skins with a smoldering end of a stick. When she was eleven, Amanda was adopted and brought to the United States by Carol Meadows, a nurse-practitioner from Arkansas. During the long emotional and physical healing process, Amanda’s skill of running away to avoid constant beatings was channeled into winning races on her high school track team. Now Amanda is attending the US Naval Academy, where she is an emerging college track star. Link to Washington Post story.
These three stories illustrate how determination can help people overcome disabilities, societal stigma, prejudice, poverty and physical challenges to become empowered people achieving great things and a fulfilling life.
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Links to some my other blogs featuring diversity and sports
A blog about Bridge II Sports, a local non-profit with a robust series of athletic programs for people with disabilities.
Five Key Messages on The Importance of Out Gay Olympic Athletes, which also includes links to two blogs featuring a series of fabulous out gay figure skaters.
And finally, a link to my whole series of “Get Up” Blogs inspired by US Figure Skating’s “Get Up” campaign, with the theme, that, in all aspects of our lives, like in figure skating, we may fall, but the more times we get up and persevere, the stronger we become.