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The One Thing Girls In The 60s Missed They Have Now

April 06, 2024 3 min read 6 Comments

The One Thing Girls In The 60s Missed They Have Now

You see those bright smiles? Diane Firmani, 69, says ladies might have been late to the game with school team sports, but they are making up for it. They have formed hockey teams, among other things.

By Ray Glier

Girls in the way back were not just deprived of the fun of school athletics. Their reality was they were deprived of the bonds a team provides. They could not contribute to one another’s joy or anguish on the field, or on the court. They could not rally together around a school jersey inscribed with “Lions”, or “Tigers”, or “Bears.”

“We missed all that,” said Diane Firmani, 69. She is a left wing for the Pioneer Peak Orthopedics team, champions of the Anchorage Women’s Hockey League.

“I was so jealous of my brothers that they could play on a team. I was a cheerleader. That's all there was."

This has been a seismic week for women in sports with the Iowa-Louisiana State basketball game setting a TV viewing record. The Women’s Final Four in Cleveland saw tickets go for $2,000 and up.

What you will hear over and over from Diane and other women who came late to these team games is a chorus of welcome accountability. They cherish that accountability to one another provided by the golden "Title IX" education legislation 52 years ago.

Firmani said hockey games are Sunday evenings and you show up so one of your teammates does not have to take too many shifts on the ice. You don’t rub out an opposing skater so your team doesn’t get a reputation as cheap-shot artists, besides hurting someone and playing short-handed.

“There is a camaraderie the boys enjoyed in athletics,” Diane said. “We have that now. We need that weekly schedule and that accountability and seeing one another. It's just the frosting on the cake.”

Women playing team sports may seem like old news to women who grew up after Title IX was passed. But Geezer Jock(ettes) of the 60s won’t forget. Many countries still mightily resist females in team sports with dehumanizing policies.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but team sports contributes to ego, and a certain self-awareness.

“Am I valuable to the team?”

The absence of organized athletics in the 50s and 60s didn’t mean these women had stunted growth, or lack of skills, or lacked fire. The All-American Women’s Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) proved that. My own family with five sisters proved that. One sister, Liz, took a bat to the bigger dog attacking our little dog, Spunky. She gripped that bat with two fists tighter than Mickey Mantle and whacked that bully three times on the back-end until it ran off.

The lack of team sports only meant they were deprived, not lacking.

Diane and the Anchorage women wiped away that injustice 40 years ago. She saw an advertisement for a women’s hockey team in 1984. She has been playing ever since and has enjoyed a soulful experience.

It wasn’t about proving anything.

It was about having fun.

And now their daughters are joining the teams, so the age range of the squads is 20 to almost 70.

In a 16-minute interview with Geezer Jock, Firmani used the word “makeup.” She talked about “frosting on the cake.” She mentioned “bras.”

Girl kind of stuff, right?

I better give this some context. Quick, before I get in trouble.

I asked Diane if she is worried about injury at 70 skating on ice. “Not in my makeup to be worried about that,” she said. “I just play.”

You read earlier in this story about “frosting on the cake” being the accountability factor that goes on top of the fun factor, not what women were expected to put on top of a cake.

“Bras” is reference to the C-Cup. While the National Hockey League has its Stanley Cup, Alaska’s women hockey players have the C-Cup, which the inelegantly named Geezer Jock newsletter can appreciate. Teams from all over Alaska show up in December for the women’s event.

In the spring, the guys can intrude on the fun for the Over-the-Hill Tournament. You have to be over 40.

“The young girls say ‘I’m so impressed’ with you and we go, ‘well, ok, we’re just having fun',” Firmani said. “We’re still going. We’re still at it and people like that.”

 

Anchorage Women’s Hockey League 2023-2024 Tournament Champs!
Pioneer Peak Orthopedics, LLC


6 Responses

Deb Bieber
Deb Bieber

April 18, 2024

This is so great, I was on the cusp of title IX, so I did cheerleading. But my mom started the softball league in our town and now 50 years later it is still going strong. I have decided to put my cheerleading muscles to work and I am now doing track and field, specifically jumps. I already have 4 gold medals in high jump and triple jump. This is great, thanks for writing, I am a total geezer jock.

Carol Rolfes
Carol Rolfes

April 14, 2024

Great stories. Every time I tell young people how we couldn’t play full court basketball they pretty much don’t believe me. Thanks for sharing and doing such a great job of giving us mature folks some kudos.

Alice Tym
Alice Tym

April 14, 2024

Ray, you get the best stories! It is so fun to read what these ladies have achieved. Shoujd it be called the D Cup now? Or, maybe just 38 Long!

Liz Richards
Liz Richards

April 12, 2024

Great writing Ray!
It’s good you tell the stories that need to be told!
Ps… All of us knew how to wield a bat properly in the Glier backyard baseball field! Thanks for the lessons❤️ Sister Liz

Darlene C Backlund
Darlene C Backlund

April 07, 2024

So agree with these ladies and what those of us in our 70’s missed by not having team sports. When we 30 year old women in the Seattle area decided 50 years ago that we too, could play soccer like the adult men. The womens rec league started. It was so great to have a coach and a team. Title IX (1972) helped, but didn’t fix equality for women. I kept doing 50K racewalks until the last one was available when I was 74, yet women were never allowed to compete that distance in the Olympics—only the men.

Patti Baker
Patti Baker

April 07, 2024

We need to make sure the younger generations understand the effect, and meaning, of Title IX. I was being interviewed by a high school girl a couple of weeks ago as I was competing in a track meet. She asked me if I did sports in high school. I said “No” that I was pre Title IX and therefore no sports were available to me. I could tell by the look son her face she had no idea what I was referring to so I explained. She was shocked. I told her it changed her life and she didn’t even know it. Yay for these women, and Yay for you, Ray, for the telling of such stories .

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