Good news for my fourth grade daughter – for the latest semester of school, she has been appointed a member of the school’s “Awesome Reporters.” This group of students picks topics of interest to them and the student body and puts together articles with photos that are posted in school and sent to the local paper.

I happened to attend the community meeting where the last batch of kids presented their reporting. They all interviewed then wrote an article about the school’s new teachers. Count on kids to ask probing questions about the teachers’ favorite sports team, silly pet antics, living situations, and hobbies. The writing pieces and their presentation to the school body were impressive – funny, well-written, and appropriately detailed.

Recently, we have had two occasions to hear from inspirational female athletes – one was Kristine Lilly, the retired Olympic and World Cup soccer player, and the other was from the record-breaking 2018 US Women’s Nordic Ski Team.

I took my daughter and two friends from her soccer team to meet Kristine in Montpelier, VT; all three are “Awesome Reporters.” They came prepared with a clipboard and questions; they spent the time before the talk strategically dividing the questions between them. While they listened to the talk, they also whispered about answered questions, took notes, and reorganized their questions. When the Q&A time came, their three hands were the first up.

We met the Nordic skiers at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center at an event called Fast and Female. I had planned to bring the afterschool cross country ski program to Craftsbury that afternoon, so we were there early. The event organizers helped two “Awesome Reporters” set up a time to talk with Kaitlynn Miller and Caitlin Patterson before the ski event. This time, they met the athletes for 15 minutes of interviewing – the importance of this time was not lost on our young reporters.

The school librarian directs the “Awesome Reporters” and deserves recognition for helping the writers compose their questions and then draft and revise their articles. The articles will be completed over the next few weeks, and I will be interested to see how the reporters present the women’s messages.

Kristine focused on fitness, perseverance (she came back to compete after having a baby, as did Kikkan Randall who was at Fast and Female and won Olympic gold in 2018), and setting reasonable goals and then resetting them once attained (she used soccer dribbling as an example – set a goal for four consecutive touches with your knee, when that is easy, try eight.).

At the Fast and Female event, 15 ambassadors – women from the US Ski Team and Craftsbury elite team – ran activities and drills, signed autographs, and answered questions. 100 girls aged 8-18 danced with gold medalist Jessie Diggins, skied relays with gold medalist Kikkan Randall, and played games with biathlete Susan Dunklee (and so many more). After the games, the girls crowded inside where Diggins and Randall talked about their gold medal winning relay. The message they passed to the girls – it is not about the win, it is about knowing you have work hard and you are prepared, you have had fun getting to this point, and you have friends and family who will celebrate your hard work. Peggy Shinn’s new book World Class analyzes the success of this group of women as a team and as individual athletes.

I can tell my daughter all of these things a million times, but it will never have the impact of hearing it from these women. These young reporters are empowered for life not only by sport but also by the ability to ask questions, research the remaining questions, and write an engaging article. I love knowing that the “Awesome Reporters” will pass along these messages to their school community.

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