Friday, August 8, 2008

Weekend 3-Way: sports edition

In honor of the games of the 29th Olympiad, please share your personal history of organized sports.


Mine is a tragic history. I might have fooled you with heroic tales of my running and my prowess at the gym, but the truth is that I have always been pathetically bad at organized sports. There was the swimming, which was fine because it was pretty solitary and there was always a slow lane for me to muddle along in, but there was also the unfortunate season of softball when I tried so desperately to hide in right field and would have been perfectly happy just to daydream and sing to myself out there if that damned stupid ball would have just stayed away! I did gymnastics when I was younger, and I don't think I was necessarily terrible at it, but I was apparently neither talented nor committed enough to compete at any significant level. I was even a cheerleader for a while, and captained the squad in 8th grade! I was inspired and mentored by the pom poms of a certain co-blogger who may or may not remain nameless. Wait, is cheerleading a sport? In High School, I tried track - what the hell was I thinking? Soon I discovered that I was much better suited for Dead shows and general laziness. I could have won a gold medal in avoidance of sports. Now I have settled comfortably into my role of sports spectator, fixing drinks and keeping the salsa bowl filled. I don't even participate in cannonball contests, but I make a mean announcer.

I am such the opposite particpate-in-too-many-sports middle child to your youngest child, Jacquie. My geek-to-cool ratio has always been skewed opposite to yours.

Sigh. Some things never change.

I did other stuff like tennis and diving, and, um, you know, other stuff. But for me it was always about the swimming. Year-round, 1 or 2 leagues, from when I was 7 until I graduated high school. My senior year I swam before school (which started at 7:40) so I could get a workout in. Still dark outside, just me and my coach in the pool area. I don't know who was more dedicated, me or him. It worked, though. I kicked some ass at States in 500 free. And that time is still better than the pool record for 500 free at East Lyme High School.

See? Once a geek . . .

Oh? And the cannonball contest? I didn't participate, either. Not after Jacquie's boy said, "Come on, Aunt Ellie! Last time you made a splash as big as a whale!" No, I was the underwater judge. And Mom and Dad didn't even ask for my input. But they did award me a prize:


I lean much more toward Jacquie when it comes to organized sports (maybe it's something about being born in the year of the monkey?). I dabbled in them early on, then left the sports-team scene altogether to become a quarters champion in high school (actually I was never terribly good at quarters either, but I always had so much fun while playing).

So although I did not have a childhood bedroom full of trophies and medals (like Ellie probably did), I did take four first-place blue ribbons at the Emily Howland Elementary annual track and field day when I was in 3rd grade (or was it 2nd? or 4th?). I won more first-place ribbons than anyone that year. I'm pretty sure it was because I was about a foot taller than the majority of my classmates, and most of that length was in my gangly legs. This is a big advantage, especially when it comes to the high jump and the standing and running long jump. I crushed these three events. I think the fourth blue ribbon was for a relay event, so it was likely someone else's speed that landed that blue ribbon in my hand.

The only other first-place ribbon (thinking back I actually think it was a trophy!) I remember getting was one I shared with my mom, who actually was an Olympic hopeful for swimming back in the 1950s. It was a mother-daughter backstroke relay at the local neighborhood pool. Our only real competition was little Pammy Proctor and her mom. Pammy was a real brat who knew too well that she was a good swimmer, so it was such sweet success when my mom pulled out the win for us (thanks, mom!).

I'm (sadly?) satisfied with these few ribbons, I've never been especially competitive (except when it came to grades), but I do sometimes covet my oldest daughter's red second-place ribbon for pie eating. Now that's a sport I could do well in.


Mistah Schleckah said...

My dad made me try everything. Tried wrestling, got pinned, quit. Tried judo, got flipped, quit. Tried basketball, fouled out, quit. Did well at baseball until the All Star game: struck out, team lost, I quit. Ran track and jogged for years; hurt leg, quit. Now I bike some, drink lots. No more quitting.

Musings from Myopia, AKA John said...

I did not make the Little League team, when everyone else who drew a breath and wanted to did. Thus ended my involvement in sports. Like Mistah Scheckah, I drink when I can.

Musings from Myopia, AKA John said...

That's Schleckah...I haven't had my morning gin & tonic yet.

Ellie said...

Aw, AKA. Glad to see you're not a quitter, either.

MYE said...

Look at Mistah posting comments two days in a row!

I like you and AKA's attitude. I think I too can commit to never quitting drinking.

Beth said...

Damn, I hate when I do that. That last comment was from me, Beth (or would that be from you, Beth?), not from "mye." Obviously I've not broken into the tequila gun yet this morning.

Leslie said...

Tried a little of everything when I was little...t-ball, softball, tennis, dance, horse back riding. High school I just cheered. No Olympian here. Don't think some that I mentioned are sports. Mistah's comment was hilarious.

NucMEd is Hot said...

I was very into organized sports. Softball and basketball. However my junior year in high school I took up organized drinking and the rest they say is history!

Ellie said...

I almost included a photo of me, with peeps, with drinkie-poos, and almost added, "Does this count as organized sports?" And then thought "who really needs another Ellie-drinking-reference?". But if it were an organized sport? Well, see Jacquie's reference, above, re gold-medaling so-called non-sports-sports.

And Beth, I did not know about your mom's swimming prow-ass! I am *SO* glad you beat Pammy Proctor. I can't stand that kid.

Martyjoco said...

Title IX was enacted in June 1972, the same month that I graduated from high school. Prior to that, girls in this town didn't have a lot of organized sports opportunities, we mostly just went to see boys play little league or football or basketball. One woman heroically ran a summer city rec softball league single-handedly; our Central Pizza Girls (CPGs) team was pretty pathetic but we did once somehow beat the rather intimidating older women (they were probably 23) who worked building submarines, the dreaded Electric Boat Athletic Club (EBAC). It may have been our only victory all summer.
There were intramurals at high school (different colored bibs over your gym suit) but I'm pretty sure the only two ways I could have (theoretically) won a "letter" would have been as a cheerleader or a member of the (!) rifle club... We did have a short-lived girls' swim team, but alas, the wicked hot babe new gym teacher/coach only managed to organize two matches (I was in Jacquie's slow lane) before she abruptly left town amidst rumors of an affair with the married baseball coach. I was too tall for gymnastics, two uncoordinated for basketball, too disinterested to run. In the neighborhood, though, I was a champion green-grape fighter, tree-house builder, bicycle racer, jump-roper, hide'n'seeker, etc.; I guess you would call those unorganized sports. Wonder if I would have turned out differently had I learned those organized sports-type lessons? Maybe the lack of coaching explains what has been called my "free spirit" a little bit now?

Martyjoco said...

Oops - I wasn't "two" uncoordinated to play basketball, it was supposed to be "too," but "two" is actually closer to the mark in describing how bad I was, like: lack of coordination squared (plus I don't know how to edit). When/if I get to heaven, I'm hoping to pole vault, do a Fosbury Flop high jump and just one stinkin' beautiful layup.

Ellie said...

MartyJoCo, on behalf of all of us here at Me and You and Ellie, I am proud to announce you've just won your first varsity letter and gold medal, in blog commenting.

Well Done.

Our Congratulations, Our Thanks, and Our Best Wishes. Can't wait to see that layup...

Jacquie said...

Congratulations, MaryJoCo! And I'm sure you will look positively brilliant up on that middle podium to receive your medal, unlike certain swimming phenoms who suffer when their body is all covered up and only their face - their worst feature - is showing during the medal ceremony.

Thank God I don't have high def tv.

Ellie said...

LOL, Freshie. Too bad he can't stand up there in a blaze of torso glory.

These Olympics are beginning to make me rethink this whole no-tv thing. Whose idea was that, anyway?

denisey said...

I am just learning how to do this blogger stuff so i wrote a comment and then it got deleted. Sigh. Anyway, lots to say on the subject of organized sports. Swimming sort of defined me at one point and i still closely identify with it. A psychic recently posited that i am actually from a purple planet inhabited by mermaids and chose to come to earth to help humanity. Ah HA! That explains a lot! Anyway, wanted to share a sports story about my dad. He is as into the endorphin high thing as me, i think, so he used to don his sweats and converse high tops and go running as far back as the early sixties. Problem was that no one else just RAN so he was often stopped by people sidling up to him in their caddys and dodge darts and shouting, "Hey Mister, you need me to call 911?," assuming, i suppose that he was running from a murderer or an earthquake.

As for me, i'm enjoying watching the olympics, especially dara torres, who seems to have a very pleasant attitude about the whole thing, smiling and laughing. Then she dives in the water and KICKS ASS. She swam the fastest split of ANY swimmer in ANY relay in the 4x100 free relay. 41 years old. Why isn't this the biggest story ever?

Ellie said...

Denise-y! Welcome aboard! *SO* happy to have your erudite and scintillating sensibility among us.

Swimming "sort of defined you at one point"? Modest girl. *I* brag about getting 12th in the high school Class LL state meet and you fail to mention your Gold Medal? In the Big East finals?! Or wait, was it two Golds?

Innaway. We saw that relay at the tavern last night. Dara Torres is a complete rock star. And unlike some people I know (see Jacquie's comment, above), she probably looks pretty great on the podium, too.