Over the last few days this subject has come up SO much I just had to write about it...(junior high basketball team - I'm the scrawny one in the front row #24)
Last week while I was at John Deere to check in on our lawn mower an older man who works there asked me out of the blue: "What school did you play for?" He said it in a way that I knew he was talking about basketball...I have gotten this comment before because of my height although I'm not really all that tall, as far as basketball players go. As I was leaving the store I couldn't help but think about how team sports ended up for me...
The next day I noticed that my friend Tessa (back row #52) joined our HHS (Houlton High School) Alumni site, so I had to write her an email. When I got something back from her she mentioned something about our short-lived basketball careers! The theme kept coming up.
Jeff and I enjoy watching our friends Kayla (softball) and Schelby (basketball) play their respective high school sports...and also to see Patrick and Kristin try to make their way on the basketball court to maybe get good enough to play on their high school team someday.
I didn't play "team sports" in high school. I was a bench warmer in junior high on this basketball team, and freshman year Tessa and I were the ONLY ones who didn't make the JV & Varsity basketball teams... at least that's how I remember it. I think Coach Donato's words to me were something like - you should really try out running, that seems to be your strong suit. (I guess if I took one look at this shrimp in the front row I don't think I would want her on my team either - I think I was probably 90 lbs soaking wet my freshman year). Kinda funny that I ended up being the tallest in my class at graduation (we were lined up by height) a few years later.
Another big rejection I felt in team sports was felt in softball in junior high. Genevieve reminded me the other day that the only game we played all season was the one that Mr Quint filled in for Coach Plourde...
I was a bench warmer in softball, too, and I remember vividly a memory I have on the bus on the way home from the Aroostook softball tournament... I hadn't played the whole game (what's new!), we had lost, and I could've cared less since I wasn't involved (In my mind - I hadn't lost a thing!). I was laughing up a storm about something on the back of the bus with the other girls....Coach Plourde (it was widely known on our team that he was a sore loser, by the way) loaded onto the bus and marched right back to where I was sitting and asked me point blank "What are you laughing about?" "Don't you all realize we lost the game?". Of course I just sort of slumped in my seat, embarrassed, and feeling insecure about my laughing and he accomplished what he had set out to do - make a 7th grader feel like crap to make himself feel better. That was the last game of the season - and thank GOD - it was a colossal waste of my time! No more softball for me....that was the end.
In high school the only team sports I participated in were cross country, the downhill ski team and intramural volleyball (which was kind of a free form deal). This is as close as I have come to a real "team sports" up until I started ADVENTURE RACING in 1999 (which is the perfect team sport for me!).
There was one coach that I was particularly inspired by - and that was Coach Carlos (Michael Carlos). He was the coach of our junior high school basketball team (in the picture). We always got to play even if it was the last minute or two of a game, and this week while thinking about him I have even been able to conjure up the sound of his laughter. I remember really enjoying his laugh. It was really different and I loved that he could have fun with us. In junior high when you have so much other 'stuff' to deal with off the court (with your social status in your class who your friends are etc) it was nice to go to practice and deal with a personality like his, and his positive ways. He was a good mixture of tough and nurturing. I remember at our last practice in 8th grade he took me aside and said that I had the ability to be a "great" player someday. Looking back, I see he probably did this since I was undoubtably the smallest and the most insecure player on the team. But, even today, I really appreciate these words.
Knowing that I have a child on the way, really makes me think about how important a 'good' coach is and the lasting effects they can have on a person...long after high school / college sports are over...