Saturday, June 12, 2010

Last in Line.

Recently my dear friend Woody, pictured at left on the far right in 1993(cleaning out the basement, remember), reminded me of an injustice we both suffered at the hands of our former softball coach. Injustice may be a strong word here, for relative to what's happening in the Gulf or the recent Israeli raid or our current unemployment rate, this incident is obviously small on the scale of wrongdoings. It is, however, an interesting study in sports psychology, and one that I'm still puzzling over.

You should know that as a high schooler, I was quick on my feet. I'm not saying I was FloJo or anything, but I could high-tail it around the bases, or up and down the basketball court. Having quads and glutes like I do have to be good for something, after all. Come to think of it, speed is probably the only reason I made varsity basketball as a freshman. Ball-handling, dribbling, offense, free-throws--all of these other skills seemed to elude me. Which is probably why I quit basketball after sophomore year. But I digress.

One afternoon during practice, Coach decided we needed to run the bases. Fair enough. However, rather than just lining up and running, per our usual, she thought it would be wise to line us up in order from fastest to slowest.

Now. Anyone who's ever been picked last for a team on the playground does not look forward to this proposition. Standing around while the cool kids hem and haw and finally concede to having you on their team is not a fun experience. Having never been picked last, however, I was not worried about the line-up.

She began organizing us, ordering the team at home base. Though I don't remember for certain, and had actually forgotten about this incident until Woody reminded me, I'm sure Elizabeth was first, as she was undoubtedly Coach's faaaavorite. Maybe Lauren was next? And then Laura, Mandy, Allison, Wendy(pictured above between Woody and me), and so on and so on until...guess who was last? You got it. Yours truly. Right in front of me was Woody, all-star left-fielder and in general a super athlete. NOT the slowest on the team, is what I'm getting at here. I vaguely remember looking around, locking eyes with Woody, and giggling to myself while stifling a smile, my face simultaneously registering both incredulity and humility.

What was going on here? Anyone have any ideas?

There was no love lost between Coach and me, and that's a fact. I don't often think I'm treated unfairly or blame others for things I've done or think people unjustifiably don't like me. But Coach, for whatever reason, did not like me. Obviously in the grand scheme of things this slight was not a big deal, but I am curious what she was thinking when she called for the line-up. Was she making an example of me? Was she trying to show me she's in charge? And why did she even care about me at all? Had Woody and I done something to offend her? I doubt I'll ever know, unless any of you reading this that knew me then and were there can attest to something of which I was unaware. Was I a cocky nuisance that needed taking out at the knee? Did I need a good talking to?

Maybe she just wanted me to know what it's like to be picked last.

I will say this. Unlike Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights (shamelessly in love with that show and look forward to any opportunity to mention it), Coach getting up in my business and my head did nothing to endear me to her. She did not believe in me like Coach Taylor believed in Tim Riggins or Matt Saracen! I'm sure of it! Rather than tough love, her chosen weapon was psychological, and though I'd forgotten all about it, I'm more than happy now that in running, the only person I'm running against is myself. I'm running for so many reasons that are still being revealed to me as I run-for Davis, for community, for the simple joy of putting one foot in front of the other and celebrating it. And the only person that's in my head now is me-and the Boss on long runs-but more on him later.

And me being in my head is plenty.


shannon said...

You look like a baby in that picture!!!! Your coach was obviously jealous of your smooth skin with zzero wrinkles!!!! I mean how old are you in this picture???? 10???

c k said...

Oh, Cowbell. Friday Night Lights is the worst! *sigh*

tommyday said...

Sweep the leg Johnny!