My 12 New Things

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Billie Jean King and Carolyn Mitchell Are Making Me Do It

I'm not what you would describe as athletic. If you've seen me try to do anything that remotely requires balance, coordination, or any type of physical skills this goes without saying. See my blog entry titled New Thing #1- Downhill Skiing if you doubt this.

I do try to keep in shape and enjoy a good workout. Sometimes I try harder than other times, but I do really believe that exercise helps you think better, feel better and make better choices. If you don't believe me, read Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina and SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Dr. John Ratey. I don't have to be good at team sports to have fitness as a part of my life. Which is a great disclaimer now because this will spare me the rolling of eyes and comments from my brother, "Shanna's athletic this month.. Riiiiight."

I was further inspired by an event I attended last week- the WIN for KC annual luncheon. WIN stands for Women's Intersport Network. Billie Jean King was the guest of honor and there were a number of other accomplished women that were also recognized.

You probably know who Billie Jean King is. I have to admit that I wasn't aware of all that she had accomplished until my husband's best friend, Matt Bell, educated me a few years ago by saying, "She's the reason you and all women are able to have the careers you do."

The WIN for KC program described Ms. King's accomplishments.

Bille Jean King has long been a champion for social change and equality. King created new inroads for women in sports and beyond during her legendary career, and she continues to make her mark today. Among her many accomplishements:
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, by President Obama on August 12, 2009, in ceremonies at the White House.
  • Won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed double tennis titles, including a record 20 titles at Wimbledon.
  • Empowered women and educated men when she defeated Bobby Riggs in one of the greatest moments in sports history- the Battle of the Sexes in 1973. This match is remembered for its effect on society and its contribution to the women's movement.
  • Honored on August 28, 2006 when the National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of King's contributions to tennis, sports and society both on and off the court.
  • Founded the Women's Sports Foundation and co-founded World Team Tennis in 1974.
Ms. King was incredibly humble and inspiring in her presentation. She described how she's always just done  what needed to be done, regardless of the pressure placed on her at the time. I think that's a good lesson to learn- stay true to yourself and stand up for what you believe in and who knows what can happen. You just might change the world.

Another woman honored at the luncheon that changed my world was Carolyn Mitchell. She's a local 73 year old woman who has 5 grandchildren and works full-time for the Environmental Protection Agency. Oh yeah, and she's a marathon runner. She has completed 97 full marathons on her goal to 100. She's already accomplished some of her goals (as if the 97 isn't enough?!) by competing in marathons in all 50 states and one on each of the 7 continents. As if all of that wasn't impressive enough, Carolyn didn't start running until she was 50.

Carolyn's words of wisdom: "Don't be afraid to go for it. It's never too late to start, and you'd be amazed at what you can do."

Billie Jean King and Carolyn Mitchell have given me an idea. I'm no rockstar athlete, but let's see what I can do. New Thing #4 may just involve something of this nature.... Stay tuned to find out.

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