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Ode to Kobe: From Daughters Whose Fathers Taught Them to Love Sports

January 27, 2020

Monday Motivation, Inspiration, Wisdom and Thoughts for Fathers of Daughters, Women, Female Athletes

My father was my sports idol for most of my life. Standing 6’1” tall with broad shoulders, long legs, and wide hands to palm a basketball, I adored his athletic ability. As an outstanding basketball and football player in high school wearing the colors of gold and purple, he continued his passion for sports becoming a physical education teacher and coach in college while playing his beloved game of basketball and adding the game of lacrosse. Some of my fondest memories of him include teaching me and my sister to throw the perfect foul shot, football spiral, and cheering him on from the sidelines as we grew.

As I watched the grim news of the helicopter crash in California yesterday, after watching parts of the Pro Football Game, my heart sank, like so many others, for the loss of lives including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi. As I learned about their special father-daughter basketball bond, my heart was warmed by the knowledge they were at least together on the fateful flight. If I had to be anywhere in a scary situation like that one, I would want my father by my side. This perspective inspired me to write today’s blog post.

Today’s society still believes athletic men need sons to carry on their sports legacy by walking in their shoes, but that’s false. Two years ago I interviewed highly successful female athletes asking them who inspired them most to get into sports, 90% of them said their fathers. Even if they had older brothers who played sports, fathers were still instrumental in teaching the love of the game to their daughters. This was true in my life and that of Gigi’s life too. We were blessed to have fathers who believe girls and women had a place on the court and not only in the stands.

It wasn’t until later in my father’s life that he had two sons. His masculine pride bumped up to new heights envisioning his sons with his athletic passion but my brothers chose music over sports. My Dad and I would talk about the NFL, NBA, and especially Syracuse University Basketball when we threw the football back and forth in the yard or a lacrosse ball between sticks on the beach in Maine where he retired. The Superbowl wasn’t a celebration for me unless I spoke to my Dad about the teams, players, and the outcome of the game. I was his “sports girl” for life and he knew it.

I have fought for 25 years for women’s equality in business adding a new desire to fight for women’s equality in sports the past 7 years by creating a Women’s Athletic Network to put more women and men in the seats of women’s sports. Like Kobe Bryant, I believe a girl can and should play sports if she wants. I seriously hope with Kobe and his beautiful daughter’s passing, more fathers will be inspired to instruct their own daughters, nieces or granddaughters in the love of the game of basketball – or any game they have a passion to play….together.

Adam, Tracy and Thomas Higginbotham

Then someday when daughters become grown women, they can pass their love of sports down to their daughters or in some cases their sons as I did with mine.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. woddoor301 permalink
    January 27, 2020 10:51 am

    Beautifully said, Tracy.


  2. January 27, 2020 11:01 am

    Thank you Tracy for saying so! I appreciate your sentiments.


  3. January 27, 2020 3:31 pm

    I, too, had a father who loved sports and instilled that in all his children, 2 girls and one boy. When I was young he coached high school boys basketball for years in our CYO league. From an early age he would take my sister and I to his practices and games. We learned our love of the game and what it means to be part of a team. That translated to other sports we watched (Steeler football!!!) and played. He was always in my corner and came to my games all the way through high school. I will forever be grateful that even in the 60s he didn’t think that sports were only “for the boys”!


  4. January 27, 2020 5:16 pm

    Kim, I am so glad you had a father like mine who knew sports would be good for their daughters. My father never “coached” me in organized sports but taught me how to ski, swim, and sail before I turned 8. I am grateful my mother and father didn’t wait until Title IX was passed to know girls could play in sports. Thanks for sharing the memories with me. Tracy


  5. Kelly Farley permalink
    March 25, 2020 10:59 pm

    That was a great article. Beautifully written and inspiring.


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