One Shining Moment


When you grow up “un-athletic,” people don’t expect much from you…but they do get aggravated when you make their team lose. I would always try really hard…but I always seemed to choke when the pressure was on. In junior high, I tried out for softball, basketball, and volleyball…I made the volleyball team but only because everyone that tried out made the volleyball team…my volleyball career ended quickly…I didn’t actually get to play in any games, and I think I sat the bench during most of the practices…


I never looked athletic either. I was kind of gangly, and I had big owl glasses up until the 10th grade. I also had buck teeth. I didn’t have the opportunity to wear the embarrassing headgear that some had to wear, but I did have to wear a contraption called a bionator which was used to pull my jaw forward since I had a serious overbite. When I had it in my mouth, I was unable to talk since it connected my bottom teeth to my top teeth.  When I was in 9th grade, several of the boys in my class nicknamed me chicken…for me, it was a term of endearment. My mom taught us all English, and they graced her with the name buzzard…I definitely know that that was no term of endearment. But the summer between my 9th and 10th grade years, I got contacts, and my teeth were finally straight…and for some reason, the boys stopped calling me chicken…I actually kind of missed it though.


Even though I began to look more “normal,” my non-athletic status remained. A person can change their looks to some degree, but in my case, the clutzy part just kind of stuck with me. I ended up becoming a cheerleader.  At that time, being a cheerleader at my school did not require a whole lot of skill. You pretty much just had to act excited, jump up and down, and flap your arms around…maybe that’s where the name chicken came from…probably not…


During summer vacation, I would always go to camp for a week.  I absolutely hated playing the games at camp. The first night there, we always played big ball volleyball. My goal was to try to stay out of the way, but every once in a while, I would get stuck in the middle of 200 brutal girls all trying to hit the ball…I felt like I was being squished between several bumper cars…I certainly would have preferred to watch from the sidelines. One summer at camp, we played the dizzy bat game where you put your head on the top of the bat and spin around and then run…I was one of the last ones to go, so I was running as fast as I could, but I ended up slipping on the wet grass, falling down, and breaking my arm the second day of camp. I actually considered this a good thing since I didn’t have to participate in any more games.


My husband Jeff is coaching a YMCA soccer league that two of our boys are playing in. There is a boy named Tracy on the team that would probably rather be doing something else…he gets a little distracted and sometimes forgets to run.  When he gets hit with the ball which has happened more than once, he does a dramatic slow motion fall to the ground.  But if Tracy makes deliberate contact with the ball, we parents on the sidelines go berserk cheering for him. Not long ago, he kicked the ball two times in a row near the goal, and though there was not much hope that the ball would go in, there is something about cheering for the underdog because sometimes they surprise you.


One summer during college, I worked as a counselor at a camp.  Again, I wasn’t crazy about playing the games, but at least I was bigger than my campers since most of my campers were under the age of 12. One afternoon, we were playing pole basketball, a game where the goal is to knock the ball off the pole with another basketball. The ballgame was tied, and it was getting late, so they decided to have a sudden death. Each team started by picking the best, most athletic counselors, but no one could knock the ball off the pole. By this time, it was getting really late, and since I was the only one left to go, no one was really hopeful that the game was going to end any time soon, including me…But somehow that afternoon, the ball I threw made contact with the ball on the top of that pole…it was surreal…even members of the other team were jumping up and down cheering. I think I was picked up off the ground and carried by some of the counselors…I don’t really recall, but I’m almost positive I was…


But back to Tracy…I hope Tracy scores that goal some day soon because his team members and the parents on the sideline will cheer like that is the greatest goal ever scored. That will be the triumph of the season…at least in his heart and mind. He’ll carry his one shining moment with him forever…it’s been almost 20 years and I’m still talking about mine…J



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