Sporty Spice

Not that it’s a slow sporting news week, but I thought I’d post on a more personal note. Okay, so maybe I’m still licking my NFC championship loss wounds. I admit. Losing to Green Bay has been a bitter pill to choke on and spit out.

And I’m a slightly miffed that while WSU continues to receive votes for the top 25 in men’s college basketball, they still haven’t broken through the ranks. What gives? The labeling of the Missouri  Valley Conference as no better than a mid-major. Really? MVC not a big dog? Someone ask KU about that. Ask the Jayhawks how they feel about Bradley, Northern Iowa, and WSU. Just ask’em.

I find it funny how the MVC is considered “beneath” the Big 12, Big 10, etc., yet none of those teams will come to play us. Right now, WSU has a better record than Notre Dame, Kentucky, Georgetown, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina…, and yet we only received six votes this week for the top 25. “They” say we haven’t played anyone. Whatever.

On a personal note, one of my good friends has nicknamed me Sporty Spice. No, I don’t wear workout clothing on a daily basis or sing in a horrific all-girl pop band. It’s mainly due to my love of sports. And most definitely not due to my being athletic in any shape or form. My exercise consists of yoga and Pilates, not weights, not running, not swimming…

Not that I didn’t try. My dad taught me to dribble a basketball as soon as I could walk. I learned layups, free throws, a hook shot, and how to bank it off the glass. Not necessarily in that order. When he felt I had those mastered, I learned the outside jump shot and the three. Dad said I had a great shot, nice follow through. What I lacked was strength. Lots of strength. Sure, I was tall. Always the tall one in my class beginning in the second grade, but I was gangly and awkward with too-long arms and chicken legs. Most times, I felt like a miniature, light-skinned Manute Bol. There was no way I could play organized sports, the bigger girls would destroy me. 

So, he taught me to hit a baseball, but my toothpick arms could never get the ball further than the pitcher’s mound. And there was one other thing that held me back from being a star athlete. My glasses. I started wearing glasses in the first grade, so needless to say by the time I reached my later years of grade school and early middle school, my glasses were almost as large as my head. And I was terrified of breaking them. Not only did they cost money, but I was blind without them. Hard to catch a ball when you have the instinctive habit of turning your head to avoid contact with your plastic frames and glass lenses. 

So I learned to putt. I was good at putting. Kept my head down, tapped the ball lightly, watching the curve of the green.  But when it came time to hit the ball from the tees, well…there was that pesky arm strength again. That’s about the time my mother intervened. She’d already had me walking around the living room with a dictionary on my head to prevent me from slouching when I walked and to learn how to carry my height, so she figured a little forced grace was needed.

I began gymnastics. I imagined myself the next Nadia Comaneci, with my two-toned leotard and footies. I imagined wrong. While I did gain a little strength in my arms and legs, and truly learned to carry my height with grace, I learned I was fearful. I was afraid to let go of the parallel bars, afraid of back flips, and terrified of the balance beam. My parents paid for two years of gymnastics, which included a year of basic ballet, to which I am grateful. I may not be an athlete, but at least I’m not a human question mark and I feel those years enabled me to transition to yoga later down the road.

My parents  finally gave up. I was not going to follow in my big sister’s footsteps and play basketball or softball. My brother would carry the load of child-athlete by playing soccer, basketball, football, junior golf, and baseball.

As for me, I cheered from the sidelines and bleachers. Not that I’m complaining, I love being court side. Honestly, I’d much rather do the yelling than the sweating. And I learned a lot about each of these sports, which gave me a better understanding of each game and I think a  deeper appreciation of the athletes.

Sporty spice? Not so much. But I’m okay with that.

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