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Athleticism and me

March 25, 2010

My father-in-law and his three brothers, a bunch of big, tall Texans, all played football through high school and into college. (Gulp.) My husband was named — first AND middle — for their favorite coach.

In Texas last month, between desserts, my son stood pigeon-toed in Memaw’s kitchen with his football-loving forebears.

“See how your boy’s standing there?” asked one. “He walk like that, too?”

There was some coaxing and a moment of observation. Then:

“Yep, toe-in. You know what that means?

“Means he’s athletic. He’ll play football. The coach down there at the school says he looks for the pigeon-toed kids. He knows they’re going to be the best players.”

Fast-forward a couple weeks and my father-in-law (aka one very proud grandpa) is broadcasting this wisdom as “the latest in sports medicine.”

Now, I don’t know about all that. But I do know that if Jack turns out to be athletic, it won’t be thanks to me.

To demonstrate my point, I present my greatest moments in [personal] sports history:

  • My father coached the T-ball team. At bat, I ran straight to third. In the field I ran away from ball, using my glove as a helmet.
  • In grades kindergarten, first and second, I cowered during duck duck goose. Please don’t pick me. I’ll be it forever.
  • Circa age 12, flying solo, I was  seated  on a small plane next to nice man with a large Cowboys ring and, if memory serves, associated items sufficient to warrant my asking, “So, you’re a Cowboys fan?” I got home and told my family I’d sat next to a football player with a Superbowl ring. “Emmitt Somebody.”
  • One day in fifth grade, the pee-wee basketball team was one girl short, and I agreed to “help.” On the court, I ran from a girl who was clearly old enough to drive, or even vote. With the ball. To the wrong side of the court. Without dribbling.
  • At a sixth-grade a lock-in celebrating the end of the school year, my own mother suggested I pass the badminton racket onto someone who might be able to return a serve.
  • Same night – After 63 minutes of hip-swinging, I won a hula hoop contest and a Sony Walkman.
  • This was around the same time that I broke my tailbone at the roller rink.
  • Seventh grade gym is mostly a horrifying blur. But for three precious weeks we studied croquet, and I knew Jesus really did love me.
  • I spent junior high happily serving on the cheerleading squad, rooting for the mighty Squirrels.
  • Tenth grade: For some reason – probably the croquet – I had to take gym AGAIN. I opt to take it with the seventh graders, which at the time seemed the least embarrassing route.
  • In high school I left cheerleading behind to keep the books for the basketball team. Very, very cool move.
  • Except for one day, when my sister, probably trying to get kicked off the squad, bullied me into putting on her uniform and cheering in her place during a pep rally.
  • Somewhere along the way, my aunt Cindy taught me to throw a Frisbee. I mean really throw it. I also learned to catch it, so I was feeling pretty darned athletic.  This made for at least two years of fun in high school; later, it’s one of the ways I bonded with my husband-to-be in local parks and disc golf courses. (My sister went national with her Frisbee-throwing, playing in Ultimate tournaments all over the country, proving that my version was not, in fact, athletic.)
  • In our first year of marriage, my husband picked up running. A few days into his new hobby, he was running five miles at a time. He asked me to come with him. I lasted five minutes.
  • In my first year at my first full-time job, I used my pregnancy to sit out a staff bowling tournament, which probably doesn’t even qualify as an athletic activity. Still, my personal best is in the double-digits, so it seems relevant. (Does that make me unathletic and a bad sport?)
  • I am skipping horseback riding and ice and roller skating altogether. We’d be here all day.

That leaves walking, swimming, dancing, parenting and miniature golf for my workout regimen.

(Intervals. Obviously.)

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2010 7:08 pm

    I am not athletic either… oh well. We have other great skills, right? See you Saturday!!!

  2. March 25, 2010 9:36 pm

    I’m dying laughing over the “Emmitt somebody…” 🙂

  3. March 25, 2010 10:29 pm

    Okay, so you still have five things going for you, right? Walking and swimming are definitely aerobic. Miniature golf and dancing being good for the core and for flexibility. And parenting like the decathlon in the Olympics…just a little bit of everything. I think you’ll do just fine, girlie. But just remember, your past is your past…just never underestimate yourself.

  4. March 26, 2010 2:08 am

    But you can hula hoop. That is way better. And cooler.

    Also, I’m curious … What Texas team(s) does your family support? Some of my relatives are Aggies from waaaaaaay back. Gig ’em, I think?

  5. March 26, 2010 3:18 am

    That sounds just like me. And now I write about fitness for a living!!

  6. March 26, 2010 12:13 pm

    I know your pain. Freshman year of high school, I joined the tennis team. (I had never played, but I liked the idea of it.) The coach ended up splitting the players into two groups according to the two school colors. I figured out pretty quickly that I was on the “bad” team, that I’d never play a game of tennis in my life. So I quit. Same thing happened with softball. (Needless to say, I have bitter memories of high school sports.)

    How about yoga? Have you tried that?

  7. March 27, 2010 10:41 am

    I just can’t decide which tidbits my favorite, they are all so great. I think I would have to go with passing on bowling due to pregnancy…because I would have done the same thing. I was cracking up reading this.

  8. March 29, 2010 7:37 pm

    This post pretty much sums up my life, except I can’t even throw a Frisbee. Every year in high school gym class we had a 6 week long volleyball tournament…oh, what painful, painful memories there. You wouldn’t think one person could single-handedly take down a volleyball team EVERY year, but there I was. It all sort of inspired a general dislike of physical activity, which I’m really trying to get over, just so I can be healthier and model healthy activity for my son – I love Pilates and walking, but the competitive and team sports still turn me back into my 14 year old self, staring motionless at that volleyball coming RIGHT AT me. Thanks for a great perspective on this!

  9. March 31, 2010 5:31 pm

    Loved this! Reminded me of my unsuccessful “gym class” days. I was athletic, very much so, but only in the pool. Anything that involved a ball? Look out! (Your image of using your mitt as a helmet, running AWAY from the ball? Totally me!)

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