Dr. Dot Richardson, Softball Olympian, Orthopedic Surgeon, Orlando, Florida
When I was a growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut, a singer, an actress and a doctor. I took ballet and tap dance, and I loved to play outdoors with my brothers. I ran after rabbits, raced trucks, climbed trees and caught balls. I shared a frustration with many girls my age that also loved sports but couldn’t find a girls’ team anywhere. For a young girl at that time, the only way you could play is if a boys’ team let you. One day while I was helping my brother warm up before his Little League baseball game, his coach saw me playing and asked if I wanted to play on the team. I really wanted to, but there was a catch. I’d have to cut my hair short, and be called, “Bob.” Although I really wanted to play, I was not brought up to do something like that. I smiled and politely declined.
I walked over to a nearby field where there was a team of women practicing softball. That coach noticed me, too and let me take a few ground balls. I’d never heard of women’s fast-pitch softball, but at the age of 10, I became the youngest member of that team. At12, I became the bat girl for the Orlando Rebels and a year later, I was the youngest player ever to play in the women’s majors. The first national team I made was after high school graduation. From that time on, I’ve had the chance to represent our country at five world championships, five Pan American Games and two Olympic Games.
Girls need to continue to support girls. Women need to support women. We have to continue to give back. Change won’t just happen on its own.
Without a doubt athletics has prepared me for my career as an orthopedic surgeon. Obviously you need hand/eye coordination and motor skills to be an athlete and a surgeon. In the operating room, It takes a team effort in order to perform the best for the person who has entrusted their life to you. Both have provided me with the ability to recognize the talent and important of others and the ability to face challenges knowing that it is only the drive to be the best that you can be that truly defines success.
While playing the game, I have the opportunity to give something back to people. I've been given a gift and the privilege of sharing it.
How Title IX Helps
We know that playing sports make women healthier. They’re less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs and experience unwanted pregnancies. Studies also link sports participation to reduced incidences of breast cancer and osteoporosis later in life. These benefits for women and society alone should be reason to keep Title IX strong. I think the most important issue today is continuing to prepare for the future by tackling the challenges of enforcing Title IX issues. It’s still crucial for girls and women not only to participate in sport, but to remain active in supporting the cause.