In honor of it being Throwback Thursday (or, as the cool kids say, #TBT) I thought I’d wax nostalgic about my (very brief) days on my high school track team.
You could say I have a bit of a checkered past when it comes to organized sports past the age of 10. Baseball as a child? Loved it, played shortstop almost as good as Nomar (insert cheeky wink here). I wanted to play soccer but my city didn’t have any youth leagues at the time, and when we moved to the ‘burbs when I was 11, every kid in town had been playing soccer since they were zygotes, basically, and the town only had competitive traveling teams, so my unskilled, toe-kicking little self had to miss out.
Fast-forward to freshman year of high school in said ‘burb. I had taken group tennis lessons over the summer and enjoyed playing, so I decided to go out for the team. In those days no one got cut from the team, but that meant freshmen got relegated to wall-ball or exhibition matches on game days, since my school didn’t have enough courts for all of us to play. Freshmen didn’t travel either. I remember a lot of wall-ball and a lot of sneaking glances at my crush, a junior on the baseball team, and giggling and turning red a lot. Oh the joys of being a teenage girl.
I eagerly awaited sophomore year, when I’d finally get to play. However, the tennis coach left and the woman who was hired to replace him decided to have tryouts to weed out the weaker players and prevent endless afternoons of wall-ball. I killed all the sprinting drills and did pretty well at the actual tennis-playing drills, but, as I wrote about on my running journey page, I failed the long-distance running parts and the coach decided I wasn’t tennis-team material. I got cut. (And the freshman with the slap-worthy face who I beat in every single tennis match we played during tryouts made the team. No, I’m not still bitter.)
I avoided sports my junior year, mostly because I was still bitter about having been cut the previous year, but also partly because I just wasn’t interested in the other sports. Then one of my friends started telling me about how much fun she had doing track, and the seed was planted. I knew I was good at sprinting, and figured I could just do the short, sprinting events and never have to run long-distance again. Plus, no one got cut from the track team, so I wouldn’t have to suffer that embarrassment again. I eagerly awaited the spring season of my senior year so that I could finally showcase my sprinting skillz for the whole school to see.
I went to the team meetings after school, was made to run the stupidly long cross-country course for some reason, and when event tryouts started I was so pumped. I could already picture myself in the awesome green and white singlet and the tiny shorts with the mysterious and gross built-in underwear, and I couldn’t wait to don the uniform with my teammates. I figured I’d be doing the 100m, and either the 200m or the 200m relay, but I needed one more event. I couldn’t jump very high or very far, so I set my sights on the shot put, which seemed doable. However, when the coach spotted me standing giddily in the tryout line, he yelled “The shot weighs more than you, D! Go try the javelin!” I tried to convince him to at least let me try, but he wasn’t having it. (I was pretty small, but I like to think I’m stronger than I look!)
Head down, I slumped over to the javelin area (which had no line) and someone handed me a spear. I don’t remember anyone giving me instructions; I was just told to throw. I threw one and it didn’t go very far. They handed me another and, in my attempt to get it to fly a little farther, I wrenched something in my back. It didn’t hurt too badly at the time, but it didn’t feel right so I decided I had thrown enough and wandered back to watch my friends’ tryouts.
When I woke up the next morning, I could barely get out of bed. Once out of bed, I could barely walk. I don’t know exactly what I did, but I knew my track season was likely over before it had even started. That was the day we were going to find out what events we had been assigned, and then practices would begin in earnest. I couldn’t even go to school, my back hurt so bad. The next day I struggled up to my coach’s classroom to tell him I had to quit the team, and he offered me the position of scorekeeper… or at least the girl who held the clipboard and wrote down whatever numbers he yelled at me. So technically I still got to take part in our home meets – again I wasn’t allowed to travel – but it just wasn’t the same as actually taking part. Plus, it was really boring just standing off to the side with my clipboard. It was a lot of waiting.
Sadly, that sums up the time I almost ran track. I didn’t get my name listed on the track page in the yearbook, I didn’t earn a varsity letter, I never got the chance to compete for my school, and I never got to rock the green and white uniform 😦 I’m assuming that’s why I get so ridiculously excited about the fact that I have a run club singlet (conveniently one that’s green and white!):
Maybe this is why, against all odds, I started embracing running a few years ago… it’s my inner 17-year-old trying to live out her athletic dreams from high school. Or something. Regardless, I’m enjoying it now, so better late than never, right?
Did you ever get cut from a team, or miss out on being part of a team due to injury?
Did you ever run track? What events did you do?
What sports did you play growing up?