I was at an event at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis the other day. I was a guest of my friend whose house was being featured by AIA Minnesota, so I was just there to enjoy myself and watch a program about houses and design. As we were chatting with other attendees, my friend referenced me when talking about the Swedish Institute. He said, “She belongs here.” They were just a few words, but they really tickled me. He meant that I’m a member of the American Swedish Institute; my friend is familiar with my membership because I often bring him to events there. But do I “belong?” Yes. I think I belong there. They’re my people and I find myself in many of the enriching programs they bring to their members.
When thinking about this sports and fitness issue, it’s clear that people belong to teams. People belong to this community. People belong to each other. Membership matters. But not all membership looks the same. By going inside The Saint Paul Athletic Club, you’ll see what awaits you as a member who belongs. You’ll read about how cyclist Pamela Gonzales might be grinding gravel in northern Minnesota as an individual, but everyone who participates in a particular event is looking out for each other. Weightlifter Jackie Gleason lifts a certain amount of weight by herself, but she’s training and being spotted and supported by a small village of people. The Stonewall Kickball team is very clear in their league profile that there’s something for everyone to do as a member of their league, from playing to sitting on the bench or helping in some other way. And then there’s a whole directory of sports leagues and teams in this issue that lays out who is doing what and when, so you can consider joining them.
It’s more than sports and fitness. Yes, there are organized games and practices. There is strategy. There are roles. There are rules. And there is also the feeling that comes along with working toward a goal. The rush of achieving something with other people. When I sing in a choir, there’s nothing I love more than rehearsing something in parts and then hearing us put it together as a whole. What a natural high. In sports and fitness, there is exertion and coordination, not to mention skills that you can teach as well as learn. I recently figured out that I shy away from doing things that are hard or unfamiliar, because that puts them in a negative light for me. That I should know how to do a triple lutz in ice skates or I shouldn’t bother trying. Nonsense. The people in this issue are proof that you can join in and start wherever you are; a newcomer or a polished athlete.
And, just like in this community, you will belong.
With you and with thanks,