My First Model – My Sister, Denise
Today is my sister Denise’s birthday. Upon reflection of our childhood days, what I remember most about her was her athleticism. She was a super athlete. She and I stand the same height – 6’4″/1,94. She was extremely agile, a natural sprinter and could cut a serious rug on the dance floor. Unfortunately, for her and many millions of girls like her, there was no access to sports. 100% of the public and most of the private funds invested in youth sports were for boys & men only. This was the era before Title IX which essentially mandated equal funding for girls and women across the board by any institution accepting government funds. I know in my heart, Denise was Olympic material. Even in a sport like track & field, the only way girls got to participate was to be a member of one of the girls/women’s track clubs. In our neighborhood, there was none. In fact, as I recall, there was none in the whole Bronx.
Thus, it was due in great part to her inspiration that I formed the Forest House Girls Track Club, which later became the Raeletts Track Club. I was a mere 21, simultaneously pursuing my own athletic career at the world-class level. I look back and don’t know how I found the time or the cash, but I managed to take the team to interstate and national competitions in Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Florida and California. In many ways, they were the pride of the neighborhood – my daughters – my girl – and I loved them. Thanks for the inspiration, Denise.