Episode 5:
Embracing the Late Bloomer

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May 21, 2024

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Yennifer Pedraza

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💜🎙️ In this week’s episode, Jean Duffy shares her essay, “Embracing the Late Bloomer,” reflecting on her experience building self-confidence and finding a community of women on the soccer field.

Growing up with a family that moved often, Jean was shy and struggled to find her place, but this changed when she pursued a career in engineering and worked with a coach to embrace her self-confidence. During our conversation, she shared how playing soccer in her 40s led her to connect with a group of elderly women in South Africa called the "Soccer Grannies." Their resilient experiences as women and caregivers during apartheid in South Africa inspired her to keep playing and eventually write a book. Through her love of soccer and writing, she found personal growth and community, proving it's never too late to find and pursue new passions.

Jean Duffy is a nonfiction writer with essays appearing in the Boston Globe, Concord Monitor, PBS Next Avenue, WBUR Cognoscenti, and other publications. Soccer Grannies: The South African Women Who Inspire the World (Rowman & Littlefield, 2023) is her first book. Jean can be found on the soccer field in Lexington, Massachusetts where her team, the Lexpressas, have been playing for some twenty years. When she’s not attacking the keyboard or flubbing a shot on goal, she might be consulting with nonprofits, helping people downsize, or doing crossword puzzles with her husband at their home in Somerville, MA. You can buy her book Amazon or via her publisher. You can support the Soccer Grannies of South Africa on GoFund Me

Jean's essay was originally published in Grande Dame Literacy

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: Listeners can watch the full interview or read the essay!