As I was sitting there watching my nephews play football last night, I couldn’t help but think about my athletic adventures over the years. I have been overweight my entire life and not very athletic. Was it because I was overweight? Or was I overweight because I wasn’t athletic? Both, probably. Anyway, that’s not to say I didn’t try to participate in organized sports. I tried lots of them.
In elementary school I played basketball. I actually really enjoyed it. But I was not good. And I didn’t even fit in the uniform. My mom had to open up the seam down the side and sew in a panel to make the uniform fit me. Needless to say, it looked ridiculous. But I love my mom so much for doing that for me. Without that, I wouldn’t have had a uniform. I did make a record during my career in elementary basketball: The only person to score 100% of her free throws. Granted, I only had one free throw. That’s not the point. (Right?) I wonder if my record still stands …
During elementary school I also went to cheerleading camp. That was fun, but it was clear I didn’t fit in. There was no way I was going to be able to do those jumps and lifts — and wear a smile while doing it. Anyone who says cheerleading isn’t a sport hasn’t tried lifting someone up while smiling and cheering.
The next sport I tried was track and field. I mean, honestly, who was I kidding? I wasn’t fast. I wasn’t strong. But I did it anyway. I threw shot put — which I liked doing. But I couldn’t only do field events. It was required that students participate in the running events, too. One of my events was the 400 m run. Umm. Let’s just say I probably hit another record there, too: The only person to not finish the race before they started setting up for another race. Honestly, by the time I reached the finish line the other race was already getting ready to start. My big win that day? Finishing the race. And learning that I was not cut out for that.
Then came tennis. Another sport I enjoyed but was so, so bad at it. I played on the intramural team in 8th grade. It was a fun way to spend my afternoons, and I really got into it. I remember the day we had to try serves for the first time. It was my turn to serve and the rule was that the rest of the team had to run around the courts until the person serving hit their serve in the cross-court service box. Let’s just say my team members probably hated me more than I knew. They must have been running for 25 minutes. Oops.
I even tried volleyball. I tried out for the team in 8th grade. Didn’t make it. Wasn’t expecting to. It was probably for the best.
I wonder how embarrassed my parents were when they were forced to sit through one of my games. I kinda feel bad they had to sit through that and try to find something supportive to say when I missed another basket or serve or … or ….
Some of us are just meant to be in the stands cheering on the team, I suppose. I was never (probably will never be) a competitive athlete, but at least tried. I just like competing with myself. I like trying to beat my own records and worry about what I’m doing — whether it’s in my workouts, my job, my weight loss, my education. I am my own best competition.