We've come a long way baby...
When I was a little girl I wanted to be a cowboy.
Then I wanted to be a spaceman.
Then I wanted to be a horse.
I had a crush on a boy in elementary school and he had a dirtbike. I knew then that the joy and freedom he had was something I didn't want. I needed it!
Everything changed when I smelled the exhaust from his bike. I remembered my grandpa's race cars, they seemed so big and beyond me, but this little dirtbike I could ride that myself.
I got a paper route. I saved my money to make a mini bike out of a lawn mower.
Life was not a great experience for me at home, in fact it was awful, but it taught me to persevere, and that was the cornerstone of understanding along with my sisters death and illness, all these elements barked loudly at my psyche. 'You don't know what will happen', understanding this I did not want to waste oxygen.
When I was a little girl I dreamed big. That did not mean my dreams would be realized.
I wanted a dirt bike, I wanted a Stingray with a banana seat so I could go jump boxes and the creek in Carmel where I grew up.
I wanted to be a police officer, but I was told that was not possible, because it was not.
I wanted to be a fireman, but I was told that was not possible, because it was not.
I wanted to join the military at the age of 14 and go to the Vietnam war and fight like men, but I that was not possible.
Up until the age of 28 these were not jobs I could subscribe to.
But the Jet Ski came along.
The Jet Ski was the first motorized vehicle that allowed women in our generation to be competitive along with men. This motor sport revolutionized across the board a wide open door to women. Many took that invitation and opened it without caution but few have followed like those pioneers, those courageous young women who pulled throttle and created a big wake.
Notable women like Brenda Burns (Chambers) who as a young girl raced with her mother and her sister continuing onward and became a World and National Champion, and an inspiration to generations of today. Pay close attention to her story. Respect is earned and she is a person of renown in our sport to research.
I would come to a race and there would be 100 women waiting to get to the start line. They had to race motos. They had to go to a Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) and only a handful would make it to the main event. It was tough, competitive and happening.
Know our female competitive history. Do your homework. You will thrive off the inspiration of your legacy holders. You may also discover the legacy you will contribute on your own efforts.
Men were my mentors as a child. There were no females in my scope that were doing anything outstanding at speed.
My grandfather was a great inspiration with his car racing and mechanical skills. His imprint is inspirational. My mother
was a tough cookie and her grit personified the 'can do' spirit in me.
30 years later, women are not taking that wide open door as I imagined they would from when I awoke. I believed there would be a flood, a tsunami of opportunity, but only a trickle is witnessed considering there are 7 billion people on Earth and at least .001% would qualify.
If you are a woman reading this your predecessors handed you the baton in the 1980's. Its 2018 and women are stepping back further than forging ahead. Are you the one to bring it all back? Will you be the one to galvanize a community and inspire the pursuit of excellence?
The Jet Ski Fever is still here, its held by a few of our pioneers, like myself, like Brenda. You know who you are. We love you all and you are held dear and close.
We train very few females worldwide in our K38 water rescue courses. I wonder at this phenomenon. Is it a target personality that gives themselves permission? Do women not want to do the hard work? Is the work load too heavy or dirty? Is the chaos uncomfortable? Yes, well it is and I do enjoy that discomfort myself, is part of the delivery package.
Remaining a little unreasonable has distinct advantages for a mariner. It means that your creative spirit can become a driving force, a major contributor to the greater good.
We women have a big house to manage of course, its a blend of stressors but through them we learn advantages: our beloveds, children, and career. Risk is something we are good at, analytics is our best friend, we can think at speed and juggle the juggernaut. Our male counterparts can take notes to benefit from to enhance their own operability.
Our physical strength is a bit not as level but we can learn leverage techniques. I am enthusiastic about training women, but being female is not an excuse, and we can enjoy an outstanding career.
Are you ready? We've had that door open waiting for you to enter. The room is very big and there are a lot of empty chairs.
Give yourself permission.
Contact your local marine unit or volunteer group and begin a pathway of purpose.
You will discover so much more than that Rules of the Road, the conditions and the terrors, you will discover the scope of your own determined spirit in the depths of the big wide open. Ask me how I know?
Your friend always.
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Content Creator – Shawn Alladio cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.