summer

Dreams of Summer

CleatsI am a soccer mom.  Like soccer moms worldwide, I watched the Women’s World Cup with my daughter this summer and talked with her about how those women on the field were once youth soccer players just like her.  Little girls with big dreams worked hard as they grew up and became young women living those dreams.

At thirteen, my own daughter’s dreams seem to be of the scientific sort.  She wants to make the big discoveries and advance human knowledge.  Her Women’s World Cup moment may be publishing her research in a major scientific journal or landing a coveted university faculty position.  It will come if she believes in herself and works hard to get there.  She is also thirteen, so her dream may change.

Whatever path her life takes, participation in sports will prepare her for success.

Taco Mac was our viewing venue of choice for the Women’s World Cup games this summer, and almost every game found us there ensconced at a table and ready for a raucous evening.  We were never disappointed as everyone in the room hung on to every play and cheered or groaned depending on what was happening on the field.

As I watched my daughter watch the games, I could not help thinking that those young women on the field were once young girls sitting right where she was sitting watching a U.S. women’s national team lead by the likes of Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain as they won Olympic gold in 1996 or the Women’s World Cup in 1999.  Their parents once sat where I sit on Saturday mornings in the fall and spring watching girls play their hearts out on the soccer pitch.

It was a Circle of Life moment and got me thinking about women’s sports and the benefits to the girls who grow up playing them.

I am a beneficiary of the legacy of women’s sports.  I played basketball through my freshman year of college, and I ran track and cross-country in high school.  I attribute much of my adult success to my early participation in sports.  I learned teamwork and leadership from my coaches and teammates, and the life lessons from being part of a team were priceless.  I learned resilience and perseverance in the face of exhaustion, injury, and defeat.  I learned to set goals and work hard to achieve them, and I learned how to face challenges and meet successes with grace.

I want my daughter to learn these things.  We were completely caught up in Women’s World Cup fever this summer.  We read news articles about the USWNT and followed the players on Twitter.  We learned about the goals they set and about their decisions to work harder than anyone else was working.  We learned how their loss in the World Cup Finals to Japan four years earlier was motivating team members to push themselves harder in hopes of a different outcome this time.  We learned about the times they wanted to quit but decided to stick with it a little longer before giving up on the sport they loved.

Their stories are inspiring, and this is why women’s sports are so important.  Coaches in gyms and on fields across Georgia are teaching our girls and young women the skills they need in life to succeed.  Somewhere a tiny gymnast has fallen off a balance beam, plucked up her courage, and climbed back on it to try again.  Somewhere a softball team has fallen short in a tournament, and the players have vowed to work harder and try again.  Somewhere a basketball player has decided she wants a college scholarship and is putting in extra time at the gym to make that happen.  Somewhere a swimmer has Olympic dreams and is putting in the extra laps at practice to get her there.

U.S. women’s national team member and Georgia’s own Kelley O’Hara told People Magazine, “For me it’s just about that self-confidence and finding what you love and just chasing after it with reckless abandon and never letting anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you have a goal and you set your mind to it, you can absolutely achieve it.”

The number of young athletes who will become Olympians or play on the World Cup stage is small, but the number of young athletes who will become doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, business executives, and leaders is enormous.  The lessons they learn on the field, in the gym, or in the pool will be with them throughout their lives and careers.  I encourage all girls and women to find a sport they love and play their hearts out.

USWNT coach, Jill Ellis, summed up the Women’s World Cup win nicely.  When asked at the end of the championship game how she felt about winning the World Cup, she said, “I’m so happy for every little girl who dreams about this.”

The U.S. women’s national team taught us all about living our dreams and striving toward our goals this summer.  I hope our daughters were listening.

 

Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women.  She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.  She is looking forward to the upcoming fall soccer season and the sweaty uniforms, muddy cleats, and happy girl that come with it.

A Taste of Georgia at World of Coke

WC BuildingIs there another soft drink besides Coca-Cola?  In Georgia there is not.  When I was a kid, the words Coke and soft drink (or soda, for those north of the Mason Dixon line) were synonymous.  When you went to a restaurant and ordered a meal, you would ask for a Coke to drink.  The waiter or waitress would then ask you what kind of Coke you wanted, and that is when you would specify Coke, Sprite, or Mr. Pibb.  Sometimes, you got the dreaded question, “Is Pepsi OK?”  It was always asked apologetically.  Of course, the only answer to that was, “No.  In that case I’ll have a sweet tea.”

Coke is it.  It’s the real thing.  Coke adds life.  Have a Coke and a smile.  You can’t beat the feeling.  Coke would like to teach the world to sing.

Coke is Georgia, and Georgia is Coke.

Nowhere is that more evident than at the World of Coke in Atlanta, where I recently spent a fun morning with my kids and our cousins from North Carolina.  This museum to one of America’s most iconic brands is a celebration of the history of Coca Cola and its impact around the world.  It also has air conditioning, which makes it a great way to kill some time with the kids when it is hot enough outside to melt asphalt.

WC Fizzy DanielThe genius of Coca-Cola advertising is on display from entrance to exit.  More than one hundred years’ worth of road signs, wall hangings, and print ads cover the walls from floor to ceiling.  Vintage Coke machines are displayed throughout and brought back memories for me of stopping at old country stores and getting out to get a Coke while Daddy put gas in the car.  A bottle cost 45 cents back then, so I had to scrounge up a quarter and two dimes in the backseat.  My kids had to put up with a constant stream of “I remember that!” all the way through the building.  One room was playing the “Here Kid Catch” commercial with Mean Joe Green over and over.  I made the kids watch it twice.

As a kid, I was always fascinated by the folklore surrounding the Secret Formula for Coca-Cola—only two guys in the entire world knew the formula, but they each only knew half, and they were not allowed to fly together.  Remember that?  World of Coke does not exactly debunk the myth, but they do have the honest to goodness secret formula locked away in a real life vault.  I saw it with my own eyes.  The vault, that is.  The pathway to the vault is a walk through time from the first fizzy glass of Coca-Cola poured at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in Five Points in 1886 through different owners, the rise of copycats, and the establishment of Coca-Cola headquarters in Downtown Atlanta.  There are interactive games to play on your way through the exhibit as well.

WC giraffeThe museum also touches on parts of Coke’s history that are more controversial.  Remember the disaster that was New Coke?  Remember how it tasted like over-sweetened, flat Pepsi?  Remember where you were when you found out Coca-Cola Classic was coming back?  (I was at basketball camp at North Georgia College.)  There is an exhibit to that dark 79 days in Coca-Cola history, and it is one you do not want to miss.  There is also an exhibit of pop art, sculptures made of Coke cans, and an interactive “Design Your Own Bottle” game in the same room to occupy your kids while you contemplate whether Coke generated the controversy on purpose.

The highlight, the grand finale, the pièce de résistance is the Tasting Room.  This room is full of flavors from all over the world just waiting for you to try.  This was my kids’ favorite room of all, and I will admit that it was mine too.  The products are arranged by world region, and flavors run the gamut from fruity sweet to slightly bitter.  When you go, you must try Beverly from Italy.  It is indescribable and must be  sipped to be fully appreciated.  The machine has a sign encouraging you to take a picture of your friends drinking it and then to share those pictures on World of Coke social media.  That is a good indication of what you are getting yourself into with this drink.

Afterwards, we were off to the gift shop, where they have every Coca-Cola logo item you can possibly imagine, including scratch and sniff t-shirts.  We settled for Coke flavored lip balm.

This summer, when the kids are driving you nuts and it is too hot for sane people to go outside, World of Coke is a great place to visit.  It took us about two and a half to three hours to complete the tour.  While you are at it, stitch together a whole day of entertainment by visiting World of Coke in the morning, having lunch at CNN Center, and then spending the afternoon at the Georgia Aquarium next door.

Did I mention it has air conditioning?

 

Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women.  She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish.

Please Look Again

Did you know it takes only 10 minutes in the scorching Georgia summer sun for the temperature in a car to reach deadly levels?  Each summer we hear heartbreaking stories of busy, distracted parents who accidentally leave their sleeping children in their car seats only to find them dead of heatstroke hours later.  Just this week, we had a near miss in Atlanta with a toddler left sleeping in locked day care van for hours.

It is every parent’s nightmare, and we all need to be vigilant and get in the habit of looking into the backseat each time we get out of the car when we are transporting young children.  To remind parents and caregivers of the dangers of hot cars, the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) encourages you to Look Again.

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

Water Safety is Making a SPLASH in Georgia

Georgia summers are HOT, and a trip to the lake or pool is a great way to keep cool this time of year.  Water safety is on all of our minds, especially as we play in the water with our little ones.  There were 129 child drowning deaths in Georgia between 2009 and 2012.  That’s an average of 32 deaths a year.  We want to make that number zero.

Please take a moment to review these safety precautions from the SPLASH campaign by the State of Georgia Children’s Cabinet, a part of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families.

You can find more information on staying safe in the water at www.facebook.com/SplashGA.

SPLASH

 

 

 

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