‘Escaping the classroom: My memories of high school sports in the ’60s’

Mar 04, 2021
Hockey! Source: Getty Images

While we were living in the 1960s, we were Baby Boomer teenage girls who used to wear sports tunics and matching bloomers. Around our waistlines, we were adorned with what were, basically, dressing gown cords with silken tassels blazing. Each colour represented our team spirit, for building enthusiasm and bonding in our fields of endeavour.

I must say, when we were in our early secondary years, our steep, hilly school had no access to our field of mud. Giggling at sports time, we would start at the top of the embankment, to slide down in clay, landing on our oval, undrained by agricultural pipes. We lived in a region with one of the highest annual rainfall in the suburbs. Yes, our sporting field of endeavour was a field of mud.

Some older girls thought I would make a good hockey player, so I enlisted, full of enthusiasm. We were a chunky bunch of performers, over-achieving to make school spirit proud of us all. We used to wear football boots and socks, in the correct colours, with our silken cords, tassels a flow. I guess we were a fearsome sight to busloads of local interschool sporting teams, rolling up to the challenge clad in lily-livered white sandshoes. Sports was supposed to teach us all to accept defeat or victory gracefully. How ironic. Yeah, we were the premiers, year after year!

Secondary school passed by. If we were kept late playing hockey, we would walk home, hitchhiking. I suppose teens are still fearless. We thought our hockey sticks would protect us from any Jack the Ripper in the burb. Nothing happened.

There are many good aspects of playing sports, that is why it is encouraged in young and older folk alike. There is participation, team building, and friendship. As the resident nerd, the big girls decided that I was a suitable homework helper, solving maths and writing poems for them. They had to concentrate on snipping their split ends and chasing boys, really important stuff. The boys were playing the teen hobby of desk football, while the teachers droned on.

This was while we were supposed to be reading William Shakespeare and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. We learned vaguely about bad over-acting and teenage drama queens. Sad, but true, 50 years later, teens are still facing these torments in their curriculum. I never see them wearing dressing gown cords. But we were living in the ’60s, for Hockey One! We won!

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What sports were you playing in school?

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