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High school girls from a handful of Iowa districts made the journey to the Capitol building in defense of girls’ sports a few times this year. I was able to speak with a group of about 15 of them after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill that will protect women’s sports for the thousands of girls who will follow in these girls’ footsteps.

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I told the girls about my wife, who was the volleyball player of the year in Iowa her senior year of high school, and my daughter, who loves playing basketball and volleyball.

I thanked them for what they did. And I told them that, as a Christian conservative journalist, I am familiar with feeling like a lone voice in the wilderness from time to time. But I shared with them the message on above the door of a high school teacher’s room that I learned from: What’s right is not always popular and what’s popular is not always right.

I told them I was proud of their courage.

But I also apologized to them. I told them they never should have been the ones who had to lead on this issue. That there should have been a generation before them that handled this issue, that took up the fight and stood in the gap to preserve the integrity of their sports.

As high school students, they have to worry about what their peers, their teachers and perhaps even college recruiters and admissions folks will think about their stance on such a “controversial” issue.

They shouldn’t have to jump on the grenade for the preservation of their sports — that should have been a battle for others.

But, sadly, it wasn’t.

And the fact these girls took up this cause is simply astounding. Many of them are graduating this year or close to graduating high school. Their participation in women’s athletics isn’t threatened like it will likely be for the generation of girls coming up behind them.

These young ladies could have simply gone about their lives, ignoring the “culture war” they’re living through and instead just kicked the can down the road.

But they didn’t. Rather than doing what would’ve been easy, they chose to do what is right.

They shared stories about the ramifications they have faced for speaking up for the truth. I’m not surprised by the hate they’ve experienced for speaking the truth.

Unfortunately, the world they’re likely to grow up in is only going to grow more hostile toward the truth — barring a revival.

Despite it all, they took the baton and ran with it. One a national champion and state record holder. Others state qualifiers in their own right. Others varsity starters. Others reserve players. Others numbers in a program whether varsity or junior varsity willing to work hard toward a common goal of making the team and the program better.

This group of girls showed an uncommon courage in a battle that, in reality, the had no business waging. That should’ve been our job.

I wish I could have had my daughter at the Capitol on Thursday so she could have personally thanked these ladies for doing the right thing — the hard thing — the thing that needed to be done.

They didn’t do it out of self-interest or selfish ambition. They did it out of concern of the next generation of Iowa girls. So that those girls will one day have the opportunities these girls have today.

Undeterred by the haters, these girls kept their eyes focused on the finish line. They fought the good fight. They finished the race. And, most importantly, they kept the faith.

I, for one, could not be more proud of them. And I don’t think they truly have grasped exactly what it is they’ve done.

As someone who spent more than 20 years writing about high school sports in Iowa, never have I witnessed a more important feat from high school athletes.

There is nothing they could accomplish on a field, a court or a track that compares to what they helped accomplish in the Capitol on Thursday.

It is something that will truly have a lasting impact in a positive way for every Iowa Girl.

They were selfless. They were willing to sacrifice. They were willing to lose something in order to gain something. They were fearless.

All are likely lessons they’ve learned through — you guessed it — girls’ sports.

And lessons girls across Iowa will continue to have the opportunity to learn on a level, fair playing field for years to come.

Author: Jacob Hall

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