Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Play Ball

It seems my ball playing days are over. I am profoundly saddened by the idea given that I have played one sport or another every year since I was 6 years old. That's 32 years of sports under my belt! And now, I am a player without a team.

When I was 6 years old, I played my first year of softball. I remember practicing in the parking lot of school. I think my coach was Mr. Turner and I vaguely remember red helmets. Although, I could be wrong about that. Two years later, I started volleyball and basketball. By the time I was nine years old, all I wanted to do was play ball.

I grew up in a time when sports was competitive at all ages. There were winners and losers. Winners got trophies. Losers watched as the winners collected their trophies. Parents filled the stands and cheered loudly but nobody berated the coach because their kid didn't get enough playing time. Parents wanted their kids' teams to win.

I also played in an era where there were "A" teams and "B" teams. I played on the "B" teams but I never had a chip on my shoulder about it. And looking back, I am proud I wasn't on the "good" squads. What the "A" team coaches neglected to see in me was the fire I had, the desire to learn and a little bit of natural talent that I just needed help finding. I ended up playing ball all the way through college so I guess it didn't matter that I was only on the "B" team after all.

During my first college volleyball game, I tore up my left knee pretty badly. Badly enough, in fact, that I've had several procedures just so I can walk. And about 6 years after college, I injured my back which resulted in a lame left leg. So, I don't run well anymore. I don't run at all... really. It's somewhat painful but it's also hard to carry this big ol' body around on one leg.

Even though I am not the ideal candidate for a team, and most teams would rather not reserve a spot for me when it could be occupied by a girl who's more agile, I have never wanted to give it up. This will be my first summer with no sand volleyball and no softball. The thought of hanging it up causes tears to well up in my eyes.

I suppose I am lucky that my "career" in sports lasted this long. And I am truly thankful for the experiences I have had, the friends I have made and the person that sports helped me become. I told my Goddaughter the other night that when you keep asking for more rather than being grateful for the gifts you've already been given, you are ungrateful. I don't want to be ungrateful but it's hard. Maybe I'll do better tomorrow.


Janet said...

I have always enjoyed being active and playing sports, but I have NO natural ability or talent for it. And I'm also not competitive so I don't mesh well with most teams. The Squids has been great for me though.

I'm sorry you aren't playing, but I seriously doubt your days are totally behind you. I mean you are awesome in the field.

Pancake Master said...

What, did you think you were going to get turned down for another run at Squidball?

Annie said...

Awww, Michele, I can relate. Sports were what got me through, uh, everything while I was growing up. They gave me confidence in all aspects of my life. They are responsible for me being as healthy as I am now after having juvenile diabetes for almost 22 years. When I was sidelined in high school for a knee injury (and consequently quit competitive soccer), it was devastating!

Maybe there is another kind of ball that will allow you to be just as competitive and give you a release, but not require you to rely on your legs and back as much?