Lots of talk this year about protecting our daughters from threats, both domestic and foreign. I think about these quite frequently, as I have three daughters (and a tiny little granddaughter) in my own family. I do have strong opinions about the poison that I believe is leaking into the way we relate to each other, but rather than amplify the horrifying rhetoric that divides us, I want to offer a few anecdotes of antidote. Here are some Mulligan Moments of 2016 offered by friends of mine who have seen their daughters rise to the challenges they faced in their own lives — and who responded with grit and good old fashioned girl power.
We do need to protect our girls. Not because they are helpless, but rather so that they can lead us.
Carry On When an earthquake hit New Zealand a couple weeks ago, a National Outdoor Leadership School group was kayaking along the Clarence River, which soon started to fill with debris from rockslides. The group acted quickly to get themselves to higher ground and reduce the chances of being swept away by avalanches or the river itself, which ultimately did break through the dam holding it back. The group of college students had to be air lifted out by helicopter. In and of itself, that’s a great story with a happy ending. But here’s my favorite part: each student was given the option of cutting the rest of the outing short and returning home without penalty. Keep in mind they’ve already been out on this expedition for about 2 months without as much as a call home. Every single one stayed on and are now completing the trip as planned. Among them is Paige Shetty, daughter of Lisa and Baba Shetty, who became dear friends of mine during graduate school at the University of Rochester. Paige and her NOLS friends could have let the trauma of that experience, or the fear of the next potential calamity in the wilderness, force them into giving up on this adventure of a lifetime. But they put aside both the brush with death and the future threats– and showed us how to make use of a Mulligan Moment.
Build Up Resolve is required, but it is not enough by itself. When you are trying to overcome an injury, physical or emotional, it takes more than just wanting to be healthy and whole. You have to want to do what it takes to become healthy and whole. Like when you tear your ACL the day before you realize your dream of playing in your first college basketball game, like Meagan Eripret did last year. But, according to her father Marc Eripret, Meagan did whatever it took to heal and build up her strength– day in and day out. And now she’s off to a solid start with her Lehigh teammates in this year’s season. Resolve plus hard work equals a Mulligan Moment. I am sure she learned this when I coached Meagan (alongside Marc and her mom, Bridget Eripret) for many seasons of youth league basketball and soccer. So now I can see her (#13 below) and say I coached a Division I player. I take complete and unwarranted credit for all her athletic accomplishments.
Breathe Fire Never underestimate the power of a teenage girl who is ready to fight. Olivia Maniace showed us why this year, when she put together this video look at what she endures and overcomes in dealing with lungs compromised by cystic fibrosis. I thank Lucy Sheelar-Gomez for bringing Olivia’s fight to my attention. And I thank Olivia for this Mulligan Moment and the reminder of what fighting the good fight really means. My favorite part of the video is when she calls a piece of vital hospital equipment “annoying”. This is a word my daughters use constantly. Girls will be girls. And thank God for that.