An Athlete After All

Thursday, August 2, 2012

This old post has been coming to mind during our nightly Olympic vigil. 
It is even more true now, two years later. 
The boys still welcome me into the backyard, and I'm grateful. 

There is a funny story about me as a kid. My parents asked me if I wanted to play t-ball for the summer. I replied, “Do I have to?”
That was the beginning and end of my athletic career.
I was a dancer, you see. I did not have a desire to play t-ball, or any other sport. I wanted to concentrate on ballet, tap, and jazz - which is exactly what I did from age 3 until college. I thought of dance as my sport, and I didn’t want anything to distract from that. I loved dancing, and I am grateful for all those lessons, recitals, competitions, shoes, sparkly costumes, untold amounts of hairspray, and yes, even some trophies. But it was during my college years that I began to regret never even trying a sport.
Well, let me be accurate. There were a couple of miserable attempts at trying. One summer, when my mom was taking some college classes, she enrolled my brother and me in tennis lessons. The college was in a town about 30 miles from where we lived, and I remember being grateful that I would never have to see my fellow tennis players again.  I was terrible. As an 11 year old, I was stuck with the 7 year olds who (like me) were taking their first lessons. While I could leap and pirouette like a rock star, I could not hit that ball with that racket. I still hate tennis. Then there was my summer on swim team. Another “she’s too old to be trying this for the first time” experience. I was 16, and a good swimmer (a life guard, in fact), but no match for kids who had been swimming competitively since the womb. I came home from our first practice, literally laid at my mother’s feet, and begged her to let me quit. She did not. I collected lots of purple 7th place ribbons that summer, and I learned to be humble. Very humble.
So when I got to college and met other girls who had not only danced their way through adolescence, but had also played basketball, soccer, softball, and yes, tennis, I was a little jealous. I regretted not taking my parents up on that t-ball offer, long ago. I don’t think I would have been very good, but I sort of wished I had some, minimal, athletic skill.  
Then I had kids. Boys, to be specific, and I think God is using them to bring out my inner athlete. All they want to do is run, throw balls, run, catch balls, and run some more. I have been forced to spend hours in the backyard, kicking the soccer ball around, and guess what, they think I am awesome! I have found that I can hit a baseball off a tee, and I can even throw the ball up in the air and whack it with the bat across the yard. The boys squeal, and go chasing after the balls. They say, “Yea! Mommy!” and they don’t even laugh when I whiff. I’m sure one day they will roll their eyes and ask me not to participate in their backyard games. But for now, I am an athlete, and I love it.

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One Response to “An Athlete After All”

  1. Suzanne WestenhoferAugust 2, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I love this post! I played a lot of sports growing up but softball and I were never friends. Now I'm a part-time nanny for a 9-year old boy that lives for baseball. I've become quite the catcher, pitcher, and hitter in the last year. Perhaps I had a softball player inside me this whole time!