These football bunnies took many shapes and forms. Some were actual wives and girlfriends, appropriately (or inappropriately) dolled up to the nines at football games, practices and airport pick ups. Some were more of the 'wanna be' bunnies: attractive women that spent their time hovering around dressing room entrances and exits, or bars and hotels where pro football players might be found. Growing up in professional football as a child of a former pro-baller turned coach and his wife, I gave very little thought to these women as I grew up playing in stadiums, rolling around on football fields and sitting in the stands cheering. Suddenly at the fresh age of nineteen, amid big nights out on the town at U of A at the Globe (sadly now demolished) I started seeing my fathers football players out on the town having a grand ol' time themselves. Sometimes the entourage of ladies was present including their said significant others, but at times I would spot a large group of women vying for attention of these men. Malibu and sprite successfully guzzled myself and my own group of friends would make a graceful exit... I operated believing that what I didn't witness wouldn't and couldn't hurt me.
As I began my own journey of dating I made a committed point to stay away from professional athletes. Athletics was a virtue I admired, nay, needed to have in a mate. And yet I questioned my own ability to be in a relationship with a pro athlete, assuming in my mind pro athlete was synonymous with pro football player. I have been fortunate to be graced with athletic males in my life, however there was no space for me to take the unassuming trophy girlfriend role. I had my own fish to fry and frowned at the thought of being seen as a passive accessory for decorative purposes, the bristle worthy title I had framed these women in for years and years.
I grew up also loving athletics myself, dabbling and playing sports growing up. My Mom breathed a huge sigh of relief when I announced that my rugby career was over- largely in part to the fact I believe she was relieved there would be no more sitting in the emergency room, or sweaty post game hugs where she would hesitantly inquire whose blood was on my shorts. When I decided at 22 I needed to learn how to swim so I could give triathlon a shot. A lovely soul named Robin at lululemon helped me push through my huge mental block of swimming 100m freestyle without stopping so that I could enter my very first triathlon (Stanley Park).
As I dabbled in the sport which I have come to love, I gained an understanding about sports that require solitary commitment and confinement versus a solidarity I have come to expect in team sport and the sport I grew up in. Spending three hours gutting yourself to come up with nothing but a time and something to strive for isn't for everyone, but there is a joy in this pursuit I learned to love as well.
So if we take these handy little thoughts and fast forward to the year 2010, in July in fact, there is a strangeness floating in my head as I sit on the pavement on Treasure Island on a Saturday afternoon. I am strapped with a large backpack carrying the contents of pre and post tri necessities, but the trick is, they are not mine. As I watch and assortment of men run around, get body marked, bike checked and otherwise prepare for a sport I completely understand by virtue of engagement, I am shocked at my own revelation. I am a Triathlon Bunny.
Initially this cringe worthy thought has me considering dawning my running shoes immediately and busting a gut away from the situation. I always looked at these females in pity. Don't they have anything better to do then wait around for their men? I used to reproachingly think. I felt a justifiable reason for me to be at football games; it was my fathers CAREER on the line! They were just watching their men, wearing their expensive shoes, looking attractive. As I shuffle around the race course for the best situating myself for appropriate yelling and cheering along side another triathlete's parents I am focused on my current goal. To be in a place I can best lean over the gates to holler in support and get a good look at how the peloton is forming, and run back to transition in time for the next sport.
The feeling I felt was of support, joy, caring. Giving love to something somebody else loves. I may not understand the elite level of tri as a triathlete, but I comprehend the elite level of athletics, training and love that must be thrown into a sport to excel. The thoughts that come to mind are all about September of every year when my Dad would be gone early in the morning and home late at night; and the nights he did happen to make it home for late dinner he would frequently fall asleep at the table or sitting down on the couch, even after a few short minutes. September used to be gut wrenching time, playoffs are around the corner, a championship is on the line, and everything in life falls second to this immaculate goal: to be The Very Best to Hoist That Earl Grey Cup
on a cold weekend in November.
Watching this progression and cheering on has been growing for me, even if I favour baggy shorts and a tee shirt over a sun dress, fully made up face and flower in my hair (no joke, someone elses girlfriend at the race) I discovered I am more than happy to hold the backpack and scream until I am hoarse.
I have to make sure to to keep the ears and tail in check... and to not be afraid to wear my own tri gear when the time is right.
My Mum and Dad... from the days my father was a pro football player.