Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dear 7th grade PE teacher,

So, I'm sure you realize that the students you are responsible for "teaching" are at a vulnerable age. I don't think there is one 7th grade female in the entire country who is happy with how she looks or who feels completely accepted by the other girls around them. 7th grade girls are the centers of their own universe. Every comment made leaves an indelible mark in the psyche of that girl. A mark which many times stretches deep into their adult lives. A mark that lingers deep, hidden, buried inside that girl affecting who she is and how she views herself.

I would be willing to bet that every woman can trace the inception of a current insecurity back to this age.

My biggest insecurity (that I'm going to share with the internet)?

I'm athletically challenged.

Guess where that comes from?

Remember the day we were practicing our "speed walking" on the track outside Ferrucci Jr. High?

I'd missed class the day before and didn't get the instruction about proper speed walking techniques. Anyway, that day was cold and damp, like almost every day in early spring in Western Washington. I could feel the steam from my breath develop before it even left my mouth. I already didn't really want to be doing this, but as I walked down to the track mud stuck to the bottom of my converse all-stars making each step an even more monumental task. A shrill whistle sounded and we were off. I hung back with my friends talking and laughing until we were absolutely forced to move. I was walking along, keeping pace with them for the first lap, but then I got annoyed at their speed. I've never really been one to do what I don't want to, so I slowed down and made them slow with me. Then, half way through lap two I hear a pop and static and then your loud booming voice coming over your megaphone,

"Timothy, that doesn't look like a speed walk"

Complete. Horror.

Not only had I been called out of the entire class and my last name bellowed over a loudspeaker but my athletic ineptitude announced for the world to hear.

Thus, we see the inception of my fears.

From 7th grade small similar experiences built upon that foundation. I was picked last for a softball game. I missed an important shot at basketball. I hit the volleyball clear into the other court. I had totally convinced myself that I belonged to a class of girls to awkward for their own good.

That weakness has stayed with me into my adulthood.

Last night it was ended.

At kickball for the past two seasons I have relegated myself to right field. Knowing that the co-ed team needed alive and breathing females to be able to play, but not wanting to let everyone down with my lack of skillz, right field was the place for me. I haven't seen much action in the field, but I also haven't had a chance to let down my team, and I was ok with that.

Last night a left-footed kicker stepped up to the plate. There were two outs and the bases were loaded. We were down by 5 runs and at the top of the last inning of our last game of the season. If we didn't get this guy out the game was over.

I steeled my nerve.

The pitch was fast and right down the middle. The 6'3" David Beckham look alike wound up for the kick and booted it. As if in slow motion the ball hurtled up and out in my direction. For a moment I thought, "this is it. Catch it or die."

It dropped down, and because I wasn't perfectly lined up (darn stadium lights), it bounced off my left shoulder and shot straight up into the air. Time stood still. My heart broke. I'd let my team down, the season is over and everyone will remember that "Timothy can't speed walk".

Then, I realized that the ball was still hovering in the air. The red rubber was calling me, beckoning me to it. I realized that there was still a chance I could get it. I reached out with both hands, bobbled it up in the air, secured it with both hands while diving and rolling onto my back. I held it aloft from my grassy bed and was stunned at what just happened.

I stood up, ball of victory in hand and for 2 seconds just took in the scene. David Beckham was rounding first, looking back in total disbelief. The opposing team was jumping in my shared amazement. The ear doctor was running toward me at full tilt.

When I regained my senses I spiked the ball and jumped into the ear doctor's arms. I'm not a dork. Someone with those kind of crazy good kickball skillz is not an awkward loser who would get picked last for a sport. I saved our shot at the game. I did it. Me.

I am a jock.



trs said...

Yay Timothy!

I was the same kid... picked last for every team, every recess. my nicknames were Easy Out and Skin 'n Bones.

We called kick ball Kick Soccer in those days... and when it was my turn to kick... everyone yelled punt. Luckily I didn't think that was nickname!

So good for you for shining through.
Yay dorks!

Juliness said...

Awesomely told story! Yeay for you and your team. We all need those spectacular moments, don't we?

Katie said...

In elementary school I was the kid who always headed for the outfield when we played baseball...If a ball came my way, I would "pretend" to be doing something else (looking the other way, examining an ant hill, etc) so I could have an excuse for not catching it. Hearing your story inspires me. Maybe there is a jock lying within me. I just need to discover it.