I am not now, nor have I ever been what you might call athletic. Despite being pretty tall, much to my father’s dismay, I was not born with anything resembling coordination. During my freshmen year of college, I stepped off a curb on my way to work (at the dinning hall across the street) and managed to pull all of the ligaments in my ankle. I crutched it around campus for the next several weeks. It was misery.
My lack of athletic prowess is not only well known among my friends and family members, but also among the students and faculty at my school. So when our student council sponsor sent around an email asking for volunteers to play in the charity basketball game against students, I thought I’d be cute. I offered to be the best bench warmer she could ever ask for. In spite of the fact she KNOWS I am a klutz in any sporting arena, she not only put me on the team, but put my name first on the list.
Being the fairly good sport I am (unless it’s a board game), I decided I’d do my part. That included going to school today in sweatpants, an official charity b-ball shirt, tennis shoes, Nike swoosh socks and best of all, my hair in two very short pigtails. Once I got to school, my room was freezing as usual, so I added my hooded sweatshirt to the outfit. My first period class was VERY amused. One of my students passed me later on in the hallway, looked at me, started laughing and said, “no way.” She repeated herself several times, each time the laughter got a little louder.
I was not offended though. This is exactly what I expected.
When game time came, I felt fairly confident. The teachers’ team had far more players than bench space. I thought my spot as benchwarmer was solidified. Especially since most of the other teachers seemed to actually want to play. One of my dear friends (who actually still holds records in her town for her mad basketball skills), made me do some sort of shooting drill as a warm-up while the kids were filling up the gym. I think I missed the point because I just kept grabbing the ball and shooting it (I made half my shots, but I was really close and no one was trying to get in my way). I guess I was supposed to be running up, getting a ball and throwing it to someone else. It was all very confusing.
The first quarter looked good. We were up by 4 or 6 points and the guys were sweating, but handling it. I was safe. All the really good players were showing off and having fun. I clapped a bunch and even did the wave whenever we got a basket.
The second quarter was also great. I sat, drank some water, and clapped a whole bunch.
Third quarter was when things went seriously wrong. In an act of utter betrayal, my teammates decided I needed to go in. I immediately reminded them I wasn’t very good. To which one of the guys said, “no problem, we’ll play zone, ok?” I nodded at him, no doubt with a blank look on my face. “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?” I shook my head vigorously. He pointed to a spot on the floor and told me to stand there. That I could do.
As it turned out, I did not, in fact, get to stand there. I had to run….a lot. I only got to stand in that spot when we had the ball. And even then I had to run around that spot more than just stand in it. Unfortunately it seemed every few seconds the other team got the ball and I found myself hauling ass down to the other side of the court. I ran up and down. And up and down. And then up and down some more.
We had a time out called and I was offered a chance for a sub. But my pride was up a bit and I was still feeling pretty good. I think I had one of those adrenaline rushes I’ve heard so much about. So, like a fool, I stayed in. I played (and ran) as hard as I could. Not that it did me much good. I never even got to shoot for a basket. But, I was a warm body running around the court.
When the buzzer rang, I fell into my seat and downed my remaining water. We were down by about 6 points, so the big guns went back in. We ended up winning with only five seconds left in the game, thanks in part to a free throw by one of the former basketball coaches and an excellent layup by another coach (of a different sport, I think).
I managed not to fall down or get a ball in my face (not everyone was so lucky), so I call the game a success. However, as I sit writing this, my back is aching in places I didn’t even know existed and although it’s barely after 8, I’m exhuasted. I think next year when they ask for volunteers I will keep my fool mouth shut and my butt on a bench cheering where it belongs!