When I was in Grade 9 (middle school) I asked to tryout for the Senior High Girls Soccer team (Grades 10 to 12). I was from a different school at the time but my older brother encouraged me (he was in Grade 12 at the time) and after some discussion between my principal and the Coach from the Senior High, I was given the green light.
I tried out, I made the team, and I was ecstatic.
It was exciting to play at that level as I had always been an athletic kid, but I was also a tad socially inadequate. I was a big tomboy and devastatingly shy, and if it wasn’t for the love of the game, I would have hightailed it out there pretty quick. It was practically a living nightmare to be surrounded by a bunch of older (much cooler) senior girls (and boys).
I tried to fly under the radar and keep to myself, on and off the field, but one day, during a home game, my somewhat excitable Coach decided to throw out some verbal support.
As I was sprinting up the field with the ball (I was a right wing mid-fielder) my female Coach threw her hands in the air and hollered (in front of all the Senior School kids),
“Go thunder thighs GOOOOOO!”
She clearly had no idea how young teenage girls felt about the term ‘Thunder Thighs’. I had learned from reading magazines like Seventeen and Cosmo (borrowed from my older sister), that having a big ol’ pair of ‘thunder thighs’ was not something young women sought after.
At 5 feet tall, 125lbs, I definitely had a solid frame, and after years of playing soccer and running with the cross-country team, my quadriceps had become somewhat… developed.
Most wouldn’t see this as a bad thing, however, suddenly at the age of 14, I became hyper aware of just how muscular or ‘bulky’ I appeared to others.
It took many years later (many years), for me to understand that my Coach didn’t mean to embarrass me, but was actually cheering me on, having no idea the connotation of her words, and most likely was honestly impressed by my young yet sturdy physique.
As an adult, who has had the privilege of playing many empowering sports, including roller derby, I have learned to appreciate and be proud of the ‘bulk’ on my build. I feel (and hope) that many other women in sports have learned these lessons about respecting and loving their own bodies as well.
Today I post a Leg Workout titled ‘Thunder Thighs’ on my workout blog #Fitspiration because I want to pay homage to that defining moment in my life and spread the word that ‘thunder’ is actually defined in many dictionaries as ‘explosive’… and you know what? That’s actually pretty fucking awesome.