Goodbye Miss America

Goodbye Miss America

renee ballI’m often asked why I am so passionate about supporting women.  I don’t think I could ever put my finger on it until I came across this photo of me from 1973.  As you can see, I was a genuine tomboy.  I wanted nothing more than to run, play and compete out and about in my neighborhood or in the schoolyard.  My knobby knees were regularly scraped and bruised upon my return home from a hard day on the playground.   Sports, in particular, made my heart beat faster.  I never backed down from a competition or a competitor.   And for some reason, competing against boys was always highest on my list.  So much so that I would actually antagonize them to get them to agree to play against me.   Sometimes I would win and sometimes I would lose but I always left everything I had on the field.

When I discovered that some of my friends who were boys were playing competitive baseball in local leagues, I asked my parents if I could play with them.  Title 9 was freshly inked but sports for girls was still a novelty.  There was no baseball league for girls and I was not allowed to play in the boys league.  To say I was frustrated was an understatement.  I knew in my heart I could play better than those boys on the field.  There was no logic to explain why I should be denied that opportunity.

One day I visited the community center and saw a flyer for a new girls softball league.  The title of the league was Miss America Softball.  I was first in line to sign up.  We were not allowed to wear shorts or baseball pants like the boys.  In our league,  we were given culotte skirts, a hybrid of short and skirt.  I didn’t like it because I NEVER wore skirts.  But, honestly, I would have worn any humiliating garment if I could get on the field and play.  And I did.

That was my first year as an organized athlete.  I was an all-star catcher for my team and my batting average was the highest in the league.  I went on to compete and excel in a variety of sports throughout my life.  It was the centerstone of my being and I learned many valuable life lessons from my experiences on the field, on the court, in the gym and in the pool.

Unfortunately, I also learned that girls get the short end of the stick.  If sports teams did exist for girls they were always underfunded.  No uniforms, no new socks and no travel on the bus.  I guess they thought we should be grateful that we could play at all.  After all, sports were for boys.

When I grew and entered the workforce, I naively thought the playing field might even up a bit.   I still remember going to work in Chicago and New York City in the early 90s.  Men and women would march into the building in the morning for work.  The male executives would go to the window offices on the left and the women supporting them in administrative roles would go to their cubicle support pool on the right.  As it turned out, we were still not allowed to play with the boys.

In 2007, I started a business with my daughters.  I knew I had to prepare them for what was ahead.  The goal was to make them their own boss.  They would then determine their own value and execute their own vision for their lives.  It was very hard and 100% worth it.

I met the unstoppable Bernie Dixon, founder of launchpad2X, in 2012 and became a part of the inaugural launchpad2X class.  It changed my life and my business.  As I scaled the business my mind and heart remained with the women of launchpad2X.  I wanted to be more involved in helping other women level the playing field, find their power and realize their goals.   Today, I join Bernie’s side as Managing Partner of LP2X to support her in executing her full vision for the program.   Goodbye, Miss America.  I’m finally playing with the big boys and guess what?  They’re women.

Renee Sandler

Managing Partner launchpad2x