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Powerful messages for women

What a week it was.

Sports headlines should have been dominated by preparations for the Super Bowl, but instead, the biggest show on earth was overshadowed by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in a California helicopter crash.

In the days that followed, Bryant, his fellow parents, their daughters, coach and pilot were remember with tributes from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to Italy. But it was an old clip from an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show that provided a special, girl-power smile for many.

Kobe was talking about people telling him he should have a son to carry on his amazing legacy, and the response of daughter, Gigi, who would reply, “I got this.”

His pride was apparent, as was his commitment to providing his daughters with every opportunity that boys have, on the basketball court and beyond.

As many remembered or were introduced to Kobe Bryant, the father, the hashtag #girldad started trending worldwide, with men sharing social media photos of their daughters, from Jay-Z to President Obama, as well as not-so-famous dads: those who coach youth sports, and those who attend band concerts and ballet recitals.

All of a sudden, celebrating daughters was the absolute coolest, and a sliver of silver lining amidst the realization of this unimaginable loss.

As the week went on, and the Super Bowl hype ramped up again, you couldn’t watch TV without seeing the Microsoft commercial highlighting Katie Sowers, the first woman to coach in the Super Bowl.

Her story was told further in an extended spot during the game itself — the trailblazer sharing her path to the NFL in her own words, most notably saying that she’s “not trying to be the best female coach; (she’s) trying to be the best coach.”

She also reminds us that the players she coaches have learned from women their whole lives — moms, grandmothers and teachers, among others.

Both genders receive knowledge and inspiration from both genders, including in sports.

Just last week, Callie Brownson was named chief of staff for Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, the next step in her impressive career from professional women’s football to her position as the first full-time female coach in Division I college football (Dartmouth.)

These are not token positions, filling quotas or publicity stunts. These are women who earned their place. The NFL may be the last bastion of male dominance, and women are breaking through even there.

One of my favorite Super Bowl commercials was Olay’s “Make Space for Women,” featuring an all-female crew of astronauts. Not only did the spot recognize that millions of women would be watching the football game but also promoted an education campaign: One dollar for every #makespaceforwomen tweet to girls who code, promoting STEM.

A year ago, the battle cry was “Me Too,” an important and courageous movement.

But empowering messages like “Girl Dad” and “Make Space for Women” prove that even the sky is not the limit for our daughters.

Kellie Goodman Shaffer comments periodically for the Mirror. She can be reached at kellie@bedfordcountychamber.org.

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