Monday, April 10, 2006

I can take it

I'm a good loser.

I'm rather battered and sore from playing Ultimate Frisbee yesterday. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I joined a rec league. It's a fun sport, but requires a lot of athleticism. I'm not in great condition and I'm not very good at the game, but I will improve.

Dad called last night and I went on and on about the game, the rules and what it was like to play. He asked, "Did you make any goals?"

"Oh no. No. I'm not very good at it. I can't throw, I can't catch and I'm slow. But I know how to move around the field and I'm open a lot. No one passes to me though, because I can't catch. But I can learn how to do both of those things, and when I do, I'll add a lot to the team."

Dad also asked, because I compared the game to soccer, "Why don't you just play soccer?"

My answer, "Because I don't have any ball handling skills and I think I'm too old learn them. But I already know how to throw a frisbee—not well, but well enough that I can improve."

He seemed to understand. Then again, Dad has never been much for team sports. He plays a lot of tennis these days, he likes to swim, and he used to ski, but I don't think he's ever done those things competitively. Nor has he played on a team.

I like to play on a team. I was in a girls softball league in the 4th grade. I tried out with my best friend, Carla. I played and she didn't. Dad used to force me to practice playing catch with him. I can still hear him say, "Keep your eye on the ball." I wasn't very good and they stuck me in right field. Very few balls are hit to right field by 4th grade girls. Still, I think that my feel for softball is as good as it is because I played at a young age. I may not hit with power, but I very rarely strike out. I can also work a count. My fielding is so-so, but I throw and catch pretty well.

When I was in the third grade, because I liked basketball, Dad nailed a hoop up on the side of our carport. I spent a lot of time out there, by myself, dribbling and shooting baskets.

In junior high, I played for two years on the girls basketball team. We only had an eight game season and each year only won one game, but I enjoyed playing. Our last season, I got good at making baskets in practice and that meant that during our games, the other girls passed the ball to me—a lot. That was a good feeling, but I wasn't able to make the shots during a game as well; but they still had faith in me, which was something.

Then, I went to college, and that ended my athletic career. I did sometimes swim, play tennis, bike, and do aerobics, but I wasn't on a team.

(Yes, yes, I skipped high school and went straight to college. Not that I would have been on a high school girls basketball team, or even tried, but I didn't even know about club sports as an undergrad.)

After I graduated, looking around for ways to be more active, I hit upon rowing. We have a history of rowing my family. My grandfather founded a rowing club in New York in the 1920's when Jews were refused admittance to the New York Rowing Association. The name of his club was the "Nonpareil Rowing Club" and they went on to trounce the NYRA regularly at regattas. Mom has the newspaper clippings and medals to prove it. (The details may not be quite right.) In fact, the legend is that Grandpa was beat out of his chance at the Summer Olympics by none other than Jack Kelly of Philadelphia, Grace Kelly's father!

When I was a kid and we lived in Knoxville, Mom bought an ocean shell and started rowing. She started a rowing club at the University. She was in her early/mid-thirties and a professor. Most of the other rowers were male grad students. They helped organize the first annual "Head of the Tennessee" regatta in Knoxville—Mom sat bow in the men's eight. Which, if you know anything about rowing, was crazy, especially since she is only 5'3". When I was a kid, I was down at the dock a lot. I sat in the eights (sans oar) a few times and I rowed Mom's shell a few times.

I was familiar with the sport, I knew the basics and I liked it. In Seattle, there is a lot of water and a lot of rowing, at every level. I was living not far from the boathouse at Green Lake and I signed up for a rowing class. I started with sculling (two oars per person), which is what I had done before, then I took a sweep rowing (one oar per person) class and I liked it even better. I rowed, one way or another, for about a year. Then I moved to North Carolina for grad school.

I wanted to continue rowing, but there were no recreational rowing programs in or around Chapel Hill. The only way to row was to join the women's club team at UNC.

And I did. And that's where I learned to lose.

More later. I have to get some work done.

Grateful for: rowing.

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