Sports: Seminar will teach girls etiquette

Kids take music lessons and dance lessons growing up.

Kris Mort took etiquette lessons.

“I’ve always told my players that my parents made me to go an etiquette school in eighth or ninth grade,” the Mesa State College softball coach said.

“Every Wednesday night I had to wear a dress to class, I had to learn make-up, proper hairstyle for your face shape, how to walk the runway. It was through a modeling and etiquette agency and we were guaranteed at least one modeling gig,” Mort said.

“Some 30 years later, I’m still waiting for that call. I was OK with that; I dreaded the day they called. But we had to learn how to get in and out of cars, sit in a chair properly, not get in and out of a car like a softball player.”

The interest her players have in learning social etiquette got her thinking it would be the perfect topic for the Mesa State Girls and Women in Sports Day, part of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s national program each February.

Mort came up with “Jocks to Jewels” as the theme for the free event.

It’s open to all women and girls, regardless of their involvement in athletics, and begins at 6 p.m. on Sunday at Brownson Arena. The first 100 girls receive a Mesa State women’s athletics T-shirt.

Every year, Mort tries to take her softball team to a nice restaurant on road trips, and wants to make sure the players know how to act. They are eager for the tips.

“My players have said they’d love to know things like that, like Pretty Woman,” Mort said of the famous scene in the Julia Roberts movie where Hector Elizondo gives her a crash
course in table manners.

“I thought if my kids are in college, they have the basics, but if they’re missing how to eat at a wedding if it’s a sit-down meal. ... they’ve always been intrigued by it and I thought if they could use it, every other girl out there could use it.”

Diane Blecha of Image and Etiquette Solutions in Grand Junction will conduct the interactive evening.

Two senior softball players, Meagan Hennessy and Jamie Prather, volunteered to dress for a job interview, and Blecha will critique them on their appearance as part of the program. She’ll also cover proper handshakes, the art of introductions, body language, attire and make-up and table etiquette.

“It’s going to be very interactive,” Mort said. “We’re going to get up out of our chairs and participate.”

The etiquette session isn’t meant to turn everyone into Miss Manners, but to help them feel comfortable in business and social gatherings.

“Somebody’s going to go to a wedding, their parents’ Christmas function, promotion ...
even our staff Christmas party,” Mort said. “In a social gathering, knowing how to hold a plate of hors d’oeuvres and a drink in one hand and have this hand free to shake hands without sticking your drink under your elbow, and how to do it with grace and not spill it all over yourself or somebody else. ...

“You don’t realize what you don’t know until you get yourself in an uncomfortable situation.”

A simple handshake, knowing how to avoid either a bone-crushing grip or a wishy-washy grip, and how to properly introduce someone are invaluable. Those things, especially now in a competitive job market, Mort said, make a difference.

“My dad taught us proper handshakes and eye contact when we were kids,” she said.

“There will not be one person there who walks out without learning something new.”


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