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Girls soccer and me writing!

Here’s a little taste of what fun and exciting writing can happen when I am able to sit and totally take in an entire game… sure the photos aren’t the best but what can I say, it was my “party” camera?

Here’s an except and the link to the rest is below…

Northbridge Girls’ soccer earns win 3-1 win over David Prouty




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Northbridge goalkeeper Sarah Phelan jumps high to save a ball off a corner kick from a David Prouty opponent.
Photo by Amber L. Vaillancourt.

September 23, 2009 – The actual rain didn’t start to sprinkle until after the game, but the Northbridge Girls’ soccer team certainly brought a hailstorm of shots over the David Prouty net last night that resulted in their 3-1 win against the visiting Panthers.

The Lady Rams flexed their precise passing abilities and communication skills for the boisterous student section that filled part of the bleachers. Rams fans were given the first of their close-calls 10 minutes into the game when Northbridge had a corner kick in the Panthers’ end.

click here for more…

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Great writing at college paper can inspire hope, fairness… excellent rugby

I recently saw YourScrumhalfConnection post to facebook a link to a story from The Spectator, a paper at Hamilton College in New York.

The article was about the dominant prowess that their womens’ rugby team possesses and how they have recently moved up from Division II to Division I. I was not only impressed with the writing, the depth that the writer went into to show how this team prepares, but also the fact that he didn’t stick to stereotypically “feminine” words as many times, writers will when focusing on females in athletics.

Below is the letter to the editor that I sent in, whether it gets published or not, I am so very happy and proud that a writer (who is not a woman on a rugby team) is taking the time to tell this team’s story.

To The Spectator Staff and Jonathan Fung in particular,

Thank you for not following the popular wave that exists at countless sports desks in newsrooms across the nation at big city papers, little local weeklies and up-and-coming college publications.

As a female sports writer and an alumna of a highly dominant Division 1 womens’ rugby team, it is discouraging and deprecating not to mention completely unfair and biased when powerful college womens’ rugby programs are ignored by their own school papers despite their continued and proven success.

I saw your article (Rugby Proves Worth As Division I Team) posted by YourScrumhalfConnection on Facebook and even though I don’t know a darn person on the team, I was happy not only for them, but for The Spectator.

Talk about parity, equal coverage and looking out for the typical little guy (gal, in this case). As a writer, that is what journalists should strive to do – tell the story that would otherwise go untold.

Now as a coach, still a player and covering more sports than I have in years before, I see how easy the choice is to do exactly what you did, but there are obstacles nonetheless. You have surely made an ally in me and probably in the womens’ team at Hamilton – and you will come to find that ruggers are probably the greatest people in the world to have on your side.

Thank you and congratulations in a great piece, a great step and acquiring some new readers.

Cheers,

Amber L. Vaillancourt

From reading the piece, it is clear they deserve coverage; with their shut-outs, incredible work ethic and recent move up in the ranks, it is about time some college sports writer in the Northeast took a moment to realize the gold mine of sports writing that is in front of them.

So here is to you, Jonathan Fung! You rock, keep up the good work and keep covering this amazing sport and fantastic team.

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Serena Williams’ outburst at tennis judge during U.S. Open

When my doctor told me that I should consider another sport that is safer for me (than rugby, heh) – she suggested tennis. I am in no way hating on tennis, but I thought a sport couldn’t be less aggressive in the physcial contact sorta way… though I do love my tennis skirt… that I wear to rugby.

After seeing Ms. Serena William’s behavior via YouTube videoSerena Williams before stuff hits the fans at the U.S. Open threatening a line judge’s life over a foot fault, I started to re-think my thoughts on tennis. No, but seriously, I think treating all game officials and their calls with respect  is vital as a player if you want to be taken seriously by coaches, players and your darn self.

Despite her behavior, Williams will continue to be taken seriously, or at least I think she will be. But as a defending U.S. Open champion with plenty of hours in the lime light, did she really think that was the wisest thing to do with the match point, and her foot, literally on the line? I mean, come on.

Regardless of this temper tantrum belonging to a man or woman, I would have the same reaction. In the past, in areas accusing sports, I have heard and seen men write and verbally blame when women express their anger (maybe not this extreme, ok) in sports (and life in general) on crap like “that time of the month” and being too emotional. I’m curious to see how this outburst will handled, especially in how t.v. commentators discuss. In fact, I could even narrow it down to “I just want to see what Scoop Jackson has to say.” I’m choosing not link here, I little trick I have picked up from feministing.com.

As a role model to kids (especially young girls) around the world, I wish she would have thought over her choice of words a little more, if nothing more . Maybe even the use of her racket? It’s like she actually thought people wouldn’t be watching that hissy fit on YouTube.

No question, it was disrespectful, crude and threatening.  Thoughts?

PS – Williams just introduced Pink’s performance at the VMA’s, and after stumbling over a few words, made a joke reference to her “foot” being over a line  – not her attitude, like Kanye. I guess as long as she doesn’t take herself too seriously… pshh

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South African runner a proved “hermaphrodite?”

South Africa's Caster SemenyaThis story has been a quite an interesting on that sparked my following from the beginning with the bigoted comments from runners and onlookers alike.

After being given a dressy shirt and big, dangly jewelry to wear on the cover of YOU magazine, the world seemed finally at peace with Caster Semenya since she looked feminine enough. Well now, reports are coming out from papers across the globe that she has gone through a series of medical tests and has “no womb or ovaries” and testosterone levels three-times that of an average female.

Though the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation), the governing body internationally for track and field events has gone ahead and said  that on their Web sitethat “NO decision on the case will be communicated until the IAAF has had the opportunity to complete this examination.” It seems to me that some papers and sites may be jumping the gun to sensationalize some news. Big shocker there.

The IAAF also said that they will be holding a council meeting in Monaco from November 20-21 where they will give their final ruling on the entire situation.

I personally have never heard of a situation like this before, but one of  my first questions is whether South Africa will continue to support the 18-year-old as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of Nelson Mandela said at the airport in Johannesburg as part of the crowd welcoming Semenya home after the 800m at the world athletics championships in Berlin.

“We are here to tell the whole world how proud we are of our little girl. People can say and write what they like – we are proud of her,” said Madikizela-Mandela.

This came after the absolutely outrageous comments from runners Italy and Russia who said “These kinda of people should not run with us. For me, she’s not a woman. She’s a man,” (Elisa Cusma – Italy) and “Just look at her,” said Mariya Savinova of Russia, apparently in disbelief that Semenya would be able to pass the gender examination.

Jacquelin Magnay of the Sydney Morning Herald just put out a storyasking readers to “spare a thought” for Semenya who has become the center of this out of control gender-bending circus. In her piece, she consults the secretary of the IAAF Pierre Weiss, who explained that in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, eight athletes also tested for the XXY chromosome pattern that Semenya has. Six of those athletes continued in the games and competed at women yet four additional athletes who tested for the chromosome and came up positive and gave up their sports without a word.

If they can do it in the Olympics, my feeling is that it should be the same here. Semenya can be “my girl,” too. I hope she rocks it and continues to dazzle the media and haters with her poised responses. It helps, too that her entire country and family are behind her. Heck, they have a champ on their hands – who wouldn’t want to cheer her on?

Check out the poll below to give your input.

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Womens Premier League rugby goes unnoticed, unannounced by anyone in Amherst

Luckily, I am on the e-mail list for USA Rugby but something recently popped up in my head that is starting to seriously irk me.

The University of Massachusetts amherst is lucky enough to be hosting a WPL (Womens Premier League) game this weekend between Beantown and The DC Furies. For those who do not know, this year is the innaugural year of the WPL, that is broken into two divisions, basically the east and west coast.

This is the first (and a great) step USA rugby has taken, in my opinion, to sort of equalizing the playing field if you will, between men and womens premier status rugby in the U.S.

So back to my point, two teams are playing the feature game at UMass during the college tournament, and not one darn thing is posted anywhere on the UMass Web site. Forgive me if I”m wrong, but if you had some amazingly talented female atgletes visiting your campus for free, you might want to help publicize it, get your name attached, maybe get some young girls out there, in the very least a community relations sorta of thing?

I know I would. but alas, despite the calls I made to the oit office, the athletics and recreation office and the cruising all over this weekends events, nothing. NADA. After making a call over to the illustrious Daily Collegian offices and speaking to an old friend, Will McGuiness, he explained that he felt certain that no one was planning on covering the game or had even heard of it. Which is cool, except it’s kind of a big deal? He then offered that I could let them know about the game and that maybe a “new person” could cover it because “it would be good practice.”

I’m not trying to hate, but a WPL game is a bigger deal than a first-time kid covering a game. A top-notch women’s event should be on a legitimate sports desk’s calendar. But then again, where are the UMass girls at with their promotion of the game? I suppose it is hard to point fingers when those involved don’t even chat up an event.

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It’s been so long…

So in the great-long-lapse of posts I have done many things. I wasn’t just leaving you behind me in the dust, though that is where this blog did end up for about five months. I got a new job, was laid-off from an old job, started playing rugby with a new club, made a select side team,  WON A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, started playing sevens, ended the sevens season, went to SARANAC, got a boyfriend, got really busy with work and then grew my hair kinda long. Geesh. I guess in the scheme of things, I have done a lot in that short while. Not all of those things pertain tot his blog, but some of them do.

I have started up again covering sports, started to help coach a women’s college team, and am back to covering town happenings. Hooray for news writing, ya’ll.

Start looking for posts about the funnies, trials and tribulations I face in covering boys and girls teams, dealing with their coaches, features with top-dog ladies in the biz. and how rugby changes how I look at things and cover them.

xo

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ESPN, the magazine gets another look through my Instant Replay

Today marks a few things for me. One: a Friday… and who doesn’t love a little TGIF? Two: My beloved Celtics will peril down to Orlando for game 3 of this semifinals playoff series against the Magic. And three: I have a rugby game tomorrow, so I will be resting and hydrating tonight for the big last game of the regular season in Providence.

So alas, I worked the overnight shift at my gym last night for a little extra moolah because today also marked my last day as a part-time freelance editor at ESPN.com. Gotta love that recession.

You wont find Ms. Lois Lane getting her message out in this months issue

You won't find Ms. Lois Lane getting her message out in this month's issue

At any rate, here is the official break down of women appearing, in the following explained capacity, in this month’s edition of ESPN, the magazine.

This issue features a photo-illustration of Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ Evan Longoria on the cover and … I’ll let you draw your own conclusion on where the women are after you check out the numbers.

Pictures – any size, any shape – includes all people in the picture, except if they’re a member of a blurry crowd in the background – in which case I don’t count those folks who I cannot see.

Men appeared in pictures, either by themselves or with others (though a majority of the time it was portrait style photographs) 134 times, that makes up for 83.22 percent of the people who appeared in pictures. Women were featured in photographs 27 times, which equates to 16.77 percent. I will note that one picture that featured two women was a male athlete’s wife and baby daughter. Women were also featured together in a picture rather than in individual photographs.

The male-to-female shutterbug ratio was almost no competition. Men took 91.11 percent of the photographs featured in this month’s issue, hitting the ticker at 82 of the 90 photographers. That means that only eight female photographers had their work used, 8.88 percent.

At the end of the editorial content brings up writers and contributors to stories. Of the 42 journos credited for their work, only 10 of them were women, or 23.8 percent. Men accounted for 32 of the writers or 76.19 percent.

I thought it would also be interesting to tally and crunch some numbers from… well I forget what it’s called but its the credit page for all the advertising execs and sales people. These numbers add a little bit of interesting jazz to this mix and reminds me of the old stereotypes that women sells the ads, men do the writing…

Of the advertising section, women made of 54.83 percent of the 31 total persons credited for their work. Fourteen men were accounted for in this section.

Women also trumped the men in numbers in the marketing division, tipping the scales at 54.54 percent of the 11 marketers.Women also made up 80 percent of the circulation department with just two men in the group.

Production was composed of 75 percent men and 25 percent women. The administrative and development side was made up of 11 men and five women, rounding out the percentages at 68.75 percent male and 31.25 percent female.

The books division, which had a small mention is made up of 66.66 percent men and 33.33 percent women. The Web site is run by 88.88 percent male executives and 11.11 percent female ones.

So what sort of conclusion should we draw from these numbers? I’m unsatisfied with the amount of women featured in this magazine, considering women make up more than half of the world’s population and kind of a lot of us play and watch sports, I thought we’d get a little bit more representation in here.

Where is the female perspective? This issue left a lot to be desired and should be a wake-up call for this brand. Marketing yourself as the biggest name in sports isn’t so credible when you forget half of the people out there exist.

It seems like a never ending battle to prove that we can do things, too. We can read and write about sports just the same as we can play them like you, boys can.

While these sort of exercises can be invigorating and motivating, its still sad and frustrating to see that women can make up the majority numbers of people sitting behind phones calling for the ads, which drive the revenue, but when it comes to actually being treated like an athlete on a field or a rink, it is impossible for some people to consider or imagine.

Grade – F

Shows potential for improvement but leaves much to be desired with current hustle and motivation.

More items on this to follow.

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