Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pitching Our Way Back into the Olympics

Today's blog is a guest post from high school student Lydia Dunbar. She had a high school assignment to write about something important to her. She chose softball, specifically why it should be brought back to the Olympics. And unlike C and R, she even provides the links at the end where she got stuff. And unlike C and R again, she actually edited it carefully and there are NO typos! Such a change of pace! And really unlike C and R, she listens to All Things Considered on low volume instead of watching reality TV.

Okay, here's more from Lydia.

"The reason I wrote an article about softball in the Olympics and why it should be reinstated is because softball is a topic that is very important to me. I have been playing since I was six years old (I am seventeen now) and I remember how exciting it was to watch the USA Olympic team execute perfect plays in the infield and make spectacular throws from the outfield. I just think that Olympic softball players provide an inspiration for younger girls to become better softball players. Jennie Finch, the starting Olympic pitcher, is a phenomenal player and I remember when I was growing up I really wanted to pitch like her. I don't pitch anymore, but I still love watching how fast she throws the ball."

After removing all her nice MLA formatting, here is her article in its entirety:

Pitching Our Way Back into the Olympics

Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman are two of the best pitchers on the United States Olympic softball team. Of course that was not always the case. Like many other celebrities, they grew into fame by becoming increasingly better athletes. These two women inspire many people by their admirable dedication to the sport of softball and how they represented their country when softball was an Olympic sport. For that reason, softball should be reinstated back into the Olympics because it provides opportunities for females, life lessons, and an occasion for equality in the Olympics.

Softball, which was an Olympic sport from 1996 to 2008, was full of the best athletes during its time in the Olympics. The US team for example, won the Gold Medal every year except when Japan won Gold in the 2008 Olympics. The dedication these women put into the sport is admired by many young girls who dream of playing the sport as well. It gives girls and women opportunities to participate in a sport they love and want to compete professionally. In some countries such as Afghanistan where female inclusion is less common, softball “has been instrumental in allowing women and girls to play a sport in some of the most restricted countries” (Zinser). Without softball in the Olympics, there is less inspiration spreading to younger generations of girls who dream of playing professionally. Softball in the Olympics has been proven to be motivation for thousands of girls to participate in the sport, therefore it should be returned to the Olympics.

Like any other sport, softball requires good sportsmanship, teamwork, and dedication. The US Olympic softball team is full of athletes who exemplify these qualities. The coach of the US Olympic softball team drilled into the athletes’ heads that they were going to dominate. “That’s all we were going to do is dominate. And that’s what we did” Crystal Bustos says in an interview on All Things Considered. The fact that the US team had the determination to win the Gold every year from 1996 to 2008 is admirable, and lots of girls and women look up to the “dream team” of the Olympic Sport. Softball is an inspirational sport for many athletes determined to play for their country.

Softball and baseball are two very similar sports with just a few differences. Both were in the Olympics at some point in time, which offered an opportunity for minor league athletes of both genders to play in a world event. If for instance the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to put only one of the two sports back into the games, that would draw back from gender equality, which is one of the focuses of the IOC, according to Kelly Whiteside in her  article Why 3 Key Sports Will (or Won’t) Make Games. By having one sport, baseball or softball, reinstated back into the Olympics, that would draw attention to the lack of the other one. If that is the case, the IOC should strive to reestablish both sports to the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games consist of sports that do not seem as popular as the American past time. There is synchronized swimming which does not seem nearly as well-liked as Softball. Other female sports, such as tennis, gymnastics, track and field, volleyball, and more are a big deal for girls and teenagers who dream of representing their country. People love watching these sports because they are a competition of the best female athletes. Whether it is a team sport or individual, it is still an exciting event, therefore softball, a team sport, should be put back into the Olympics because it is another one of those sports that is exciting to watch and aspire to be.

In conclusion, softball should be added back into the Olympics because it is inspiration for athletes to try to play and represent their country in a world event. Softball is a sport that motivates women and girls to participate in extracurricular activities, and it strives for gender equality and teaches people life lessons. One way for the IOC to see the impact of such sport in the Olympics is provide programs for children to work on their skills and encourage them to continue to their best of ability.

-Lydia Dunbar

My name is Lydia Dunbar, I am a high school junior. I am currently enrolled in AP English 11 which focuses on the English language. I do enjoy English very much, but my favorite class is science. I enjoyed writing this article because it is a topic very close to my heart. When I was younger, I wanted to be an Olympic softball player and I always admired Jennie Finch, the starting pitcher for the United States Olympic team. I hope people are inspired by my article to see the importance of reinstating softball back into the Olympics.

Works Cited
"Baseball, Softball Still Taking Swings for 2020 Olympics." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

Baseball Softball Hopeful of Reinstatement to Olympics." FOX Sports. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

What’s in a Number? Turns out, Everything for Lauren Hill

Numbers are very important to athletes. You could say they are superstitious about them, even. It is on their back and sometimes the front. It is their identity.

Now starting, number 22…

Foul on number 10…

Hey 12, good game…

Oh, did you see what number 45 just did?

I’m coming for you number 7…

Number 22 was special for Lauren Hill. At the age of 18, she found out she was diagnosed with Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a nasty, inoperable brain tumor, shortly after declaring she would play college basketball at Mount St Josephs in Ohio.  She accepted the terminal diagnosis it as best she could.

However, Lauren, after going through all the stages of grief and make a wish trips, decided she really wanted to wear that number 22 one more time. To wear it on a bigger stage, to say her time was not done. She stated she wanted to hear the roar of crowd, the bouncing of the ball, and the squeaking of the shoes, to put on number 22 one more time. “…I just can't wait to be standing on this court in a basketball uniform, with the No. 22,” she said.

Sometimes you are dealt a bad hand in life, like Lauren. Or you can look at it that you got a tighter deadline than most. What will you do with it is up to you. Lauren decided to make the most of her short time on earth. She wanted to raise awareness for childhood cancer and be a voice for DIPG sufferers specifically. Usually small children are diagnosed with the fatal tumor and don’t even get half the years she got. Maybe they never get to wear a special number on their small backs. She wanted to be their voice, raise awareness, and raise necessary money to find a cure and end this suffering. And, maybe, wear number 22 one more time.

Lauren got her wish. Doctors sad she likely would not survive until December. The NCAA moved her team’s basketball game up earlier to November. More people heard. The game was moved to an arena that housed 10,000 people. The tickets sold out in minutes. She donned the jersey. She heard it announced, she felt through her feet the floor vibrate with the applause.

Lauren hill
She heard.

She felt.

She played.

We cheered.

We were inspired.

The other team was in on the special “layup for Lauren" play, a play that involved Lauren using her non-dominant left hand for a lay up because her right was too weak. She nailed it the first time out. The first basket of the season scored by number 22. She scored the closing basket in that game, too. By that time her plight and word of her courage had spread and she had raised just under a million dollars for the cure. She would go on to play in four games, finally wearing  number 22 on the home court of Mount St Joseph’s, the college she committed to on her 18th birthday. She scored 10 points for the season, but for once, that wasn’t the number that mattered.

It is always said when someone young dies. We mourn their loss and the loss of their future life,
family, memories, perhaps children. Lauren Hill passed away April 9th, 2015 at the age of 19. She lived longer than the doctors said she would. At this writing, she has raises over 2 million dollars and lived a memorable life. Her courage will not be forgotten.

Did you see what number 22 just did?

Turns out it was a lot.

Please donate to Lauren Hill’s cause, the Cure Starts Now Foundation.