In Monday’s post Don’t Swing, Danny Boy, I shared the story of going to the batting cages and finally overcoming those voices from the past that had held me back for decades. Sports Authority generously offered one of their fancy new baseball bats to one of my followers, so I decided to host a fun little competition where you’d send in something you’d written about sports and those voices from the past (be they good or bad). There were so many entries, that I had a hard time narrowing it down. In the end, I decided to go with the ones that invoked the most emotion in me, not necessarily the ones that were written most beautifully (and there were several of those).
Here are my choices for best entries, starting with the winner of the baseball bat.
WINNER – Samantha wrote:
At recess in 5th grade, kickball was the most important thing to my group of peers. I was always picked last. Cliche story, I know. But let me repeat that sentence. I was always picked last. I don’t know that anybody can really understand what that’s like until it happens to them again… and again… and again. Why did I keep showing up to the kickball field? Perhaps because I felt that I was more than the fat rolls that hung from me. Perhaps because I felt that I was more than my awkward glasses. Perhaps because I hoped, for some reason, that somebody would see my value and pick me at some point before the awkward “well, I guess we’ll take her because we have to” moment.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard the words, “we don’t want Sammi on our team!” Several times there were arguments that broke out between the two teams over who had me last, and who would have to suffer with me again. When either team finally “accepted” me onto their team, they sent me to “help” the right fielder. I didn’t get a lot of chances to prove myself on the field.
My mom got sick of hearing me cry after school. She finally told me, “look, if they don’t want you on their team then go do something else. I don’t want to hear about it anymore.” The next day I went back to kickball. The same thing happened that always happened. I was picked last. I did that for the better part of the school year, unable to give up for some reason. And then, it happened…
Some stomach bug had wiped out a good 25% of the school population, and that meant I would get to take an actual position on the kickball field. Right field was all mine, I didn’t have to share it with anybody. I wasn’t anyone’s backup. And, as if angels were smiling on me, one of the stronger kickers from the other team booted it in my direction. This was my moment, this was my time… I started running backwards, aiming myself between the ball and the grass and guess what. I caught it. The kicker was out. My team started cheering.
Do you know what it’s like to have your team cheer for you when all they’ve ever done is fight over who doesn’t have to take you? That catch ended the inning and I found myself at home plate ready to kick. The fire in my belly was strong after what had just happened and as the ball rolled toward me, I kicked it clear out in the outfield between center and left field. I made it clear to second without being tagged out. My team cheered again.
By the end of the game, my team had cheered for me three more times. I started hearing things like “do it again” or “catch it! catch it!” And I did. I was on fire.
I went home that day and told my mom how happy I was. She looked at me and said, “that’s great honey” and went about what she was doing. She never did understand.
The next day I went back to the kickball field and stood awkwardly as they started choosing teams, not sure if my performance the day before would be good enough to get me chosen sooner than last. And then those words that I’d longed to hear finally came. “We choose Sammi.” My team high-fived me as I joined them, far from last to be chosen.
And I was never chosen last again.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order):
Other stories are on page 2: