BOOK - Big Girl in the Middle



Big Girl In The Middle
by Gabrielle Reece and Karen Karbo

"Everything a woman does has an emotional component. Paying attention to my emotional side without surrendering to it is one of the toughest parts of playing professional sports."
-- Gabrielle Reece --

Big Girl Book Cover The new superstars in sports are women, and pro-beach volleyball player Gabrielle Reece is the hottest of them all. At six-foot-three, 170 pounds, Gabby Reece is at once beautiful and brutish, feminine and rowdy, accessible and intimidating -- a woman who is exploding female stereotypes and redefining our image of the female athlete. And she is everywhere: A star on the professional beach volleyball circuit, she has also graced the covers of many women's magazines. She won huge numbers of fans taking risks road-luging and sky-diving in extreme sports as host of MTV Sports and The Extremists. She has written for Elle magazine and will be a contributor to Conde Nast Sports for Women. As if that weren't enough, Gabby's got the brains and wit to back it all.

BIG GIRL IN THE MIDDLE is the story of a gangly girl who turned into one of the world's great beauties. At seven years old, Gabby was a already five feet tall. By the time she was eighteen, she was a professional model. BIG GIRL is the personal story of Gabby's eventful and difficult childhood and of how she took the athletic path to self-discovery and success. Loosely structured around the volleyball season, BIG GIRL takes a look at how Gabby maintains focus and balance without losing sight of her aspirations and goals, both professional and personal. Gabby along with journalist and novelist Karen Karbo, tells of the successes and failures, the glories and the pain of being a female athlete. While she accepts and even plays up her sex-symbol status, Gabby works hard at being a respected athlete, displaying her wit and intelligence at every turn. She accomplishes these things by tapping into her aggressive, competitive side without losing sight of her emotional center or her femininity. Gabrielle Reece is an inspiration to all girls and women who want to become heroes of their own lives.


"But all this struggle, to develop myself as a volleyball player relatively late in life, to balance my life as a career woman/model and a college girl/athlete made me, formed my character. And it's the same for all girls who choose to play sports. Take two 15 year-old girls. After school one goes home and does her homework and her nails. One goes to basketball practice and runs suicides. The discomfort inflicted on the second girl, the one who goes to practice, taps into her character, forces her to grow."

"A young girl doesn't get many chances to exercise the character muscle via sports, whereas for young boys, it's part of their everyday lives. For girls, it's especially good for them to be forced to work as a team with other girls, to work together under every possible condition -- winning, losing, tired, grumpy, happy. It forces them to deal with unpleasant, ungracious emotions and get over it. It forces girls to rely on each other. It gives them confidence in other girls..."

"But the most important thing a young woman draws from being involved in a sport is that it forces her to take a stand. She becomes a willing target for people to throw rocks at, and she learns she can take it -- one of the top ten life lessons. I've had people thrash me on television, and because I'm a woman it hurts, but it doesn't kill me."

"One of the things I believe most strongly is that it's important to develop your mind; not simply for the sake of knowledge but for the sense of security it gives you. You know you can get from here to there. For me, I know that if we talk I can probably engage in the conversation, or at least ask intelligent questions, and if a situation comes up, I can probably deal with it. There's a tremendous amount of security in that. It's the same with sports. When you are playing at the highest level you can play at, it doesn't matter if anyone else is better than you are. I love watching other people play good volleyball, because I know what I can do. My game may be different, but I can still appreciate their game."

"We all have personal missions in life. Mine is not so different than most people's - finding and maintaining peace of mind. The catch is that for me that means constantly challenging myself. If I don't have some sort of personal challenge everyday, I'm a nightmare to live with. Beyond that, I'm always working to empty myself out of all the stuff that I don't need, whether it be emotional baggage or preconceived notions or wrong attitudes. It's like my closet - I clean it out every single month. The clothes I'm not wearing I get rid of. Everything needs to be in use. Always."

"If I could represent one thing to women, it would be to be a woman who doesn't have to necessarily choose to be one thing. If you want to bake cookies and play the drums, you can, as long as you're aware of the sacrifice and commitment. Also, you are who you are, so why not maximize it. See if all those pieces that don't fit together can fit together somehow. The personal interpretations are endless. There are woman who are more creative than I am, smarter than I am. I would like to represent someone who, regardless of the degree of support, listens to her own voice instead of trying to conform to a bunch of societal rules that change every 5 or 10 years anyway."

"The bottom line is that I would like to attract people in my life whom I admire and respect. The only way I can do that is to be one of those people too. I keep company with people who do the hard things. I wouldn't be able to hang with them, and enjoy them, if I didn't do that myself. And a lot of them are women. Women who laugh out loud and have no fear and ask questions and try new things and a lot of that is due to the fact that they've risen to the challenges in their lives and they've won...and lost. They've been disappointed. They've stuck their necks out. They've worked hard. It's not just sports that do this, but sports is the only way I know."


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