Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
January 2023
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Kicking things off

Embarrassing though the evidence may be in retrospect, let the record show that I was, in all likelihood, the first girl to play on a boys’ soccer (football) team in Tasmania (date: probably May or June 1974). I played in both Grade 5 and Grade 6. Our school’s soccer strip was maroon and light blue, which is how come I ended up being a West Ham supporter since they have the same colours and played in and won the FA cup in 1975.

I don’t remember very much about any of our primary school games apart from one memorable occasion when Stewart Long, the guy on the right in the photo, took a free kick from outside the 25 yard box and slotted it into the top left corner of the goal. However, he’d taken the kick too soon, and so the referee called it back, only for “Longy*” to repeat the shot to perfection.


When I got to high school, I think I would have liked to keep playing soccer but it was going to be too hard to fight to do so, plus it was a school in which I no longer knew very many of the kids (unlike at primary school where I’d grown up with and been playing with the kids for years). Instead I took up hockey. For the first few weeks we took it in turns playing different positions, but this ended for me in about week three or four when it was my turn to play goalie. At this point it was discovered that I knew how to do things with my feet, like kick and tackle, and so I ended up stuck there. I should point out, though, that I did score at least three goals in my goal-keeping career, from penalty strokes in sudden death play-offs in finals. It probably helped I looked rather intimidating stepping out to take the shot kitted out in full goalie gear. Come to think of it, though, it wasn’t full goalie gear as we know it these days: I always had pads and kickers (though never especially good ones), I had flimsy gloves, and my sole head protection was a mouthguard.

My serious sports career ended at the age of 17 when I dislocated my knee playing indoor hockey. I could have been a contender …

(I was hunting up a photo of Helen-in-childhood for someone, and decided to pick this one.)

* We were very inventive with nicknames in my childhood. Basically you just put a “-y” on the end of a person’s surname.

4 comments to Kicking things off

  • LF

    Love it! The look of concentration on your face is wonderful, especially while withstanding what looks like a hip and shoulder from my non-related namesake.
    I remember you as a hockey goalie but never realised the story behind how you got to be one.
    And you’re still referred to as Chicky in our house πŸ™‚

  • Looking from over the pond

    Well I would be terrified and petrified as a goalie if I saw you were charging at me ready to kick the ball at [ me ]!
    ps when I saw the photo, { I } naturally thought is was the girlie squad? The hair style threw me off?

  • David Bucknell

    Did you play “on the waterfront”?

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