My 30th high school reunion is coming up this year. There is a certain contingent of people trying to get something virtual to happen since it appears travel and gathering in large groups will still be problematic throughout the summer. Of course, this has sent me down memory lane… We were required to take physical education. It was my least favorite class because of the locker room, my lack of skills and size, and I never really improved in athletics. I was more of an art and math guy, though to be fair some of our athletes were also math guys.
At any rate, one PE class, we played soccer. The student teacher in charge played with us. I had played little kids’ soccer, but it was about six years before this class. Still, I figured I could kick and chase after a ball. Plus, even if I wasn’t good at sports, I liked to participate; it was better than trying to figure out ways to avoid it.
Our high school had a soccer team and one of the players was in my PE class. He got the ball, and I tried to defend against him. I ran up to him and the ball and missed my kick. He then stopped the ball and danced me around it like we were at prom. I kept trying to kick the ball from around him or between his legs, but I couldn’t get anywhere with it. It seemed like we danced around the ball for three or four minutes. All that happened was he laughed, I got dizzy, and when he was done toying with me, he passed it to another player.
I didn’t really feel bad about it. He was one of the star soccer players; he should be able to do that to me. I tried hard, I didn’t give up, and that should be all that matters. Still, I didn’t necessarily feel good about it either. We kept playing, and near the end of the class, the student teacher had the ball and was coming straight for me. I rushed toward him and got the ball away from him and down the field. I felt good about it at the time. After all, I had kicked the ball away from the adult. It wasn’t until years later that I thought maybe he allowed me to kick the ball.
I wasn’t terrible in PE class though my grades weren’t stellar. I did achieve the Presidential Fitness Award, mostly because my low weight allowed me to do more chin-ups than anyone thought I should be able to do. I was relatively good at doubles ping pong and badminton, mostly because my partner and I refused to give up on a play. On more than one occasion our opponents were frustrated that they couldn’t defeat us without actual effort. Still, that soccer day stays with me as a reminder and a reality check. There will always be someone better than me at any one subject; my goal is to realize that and not allow it to be the reason I give up.