I am into sports about as much as a potato might be, so when I saw a friend asking, "What's your favorite sports memory?" on Facebook, I skipped the question and moved on.
However, I started thinking about it. I actually have two athletic memories that mean something to me.
One took place in the fourth grade. Back then (you know, the Dark Ages), the schools tested students every half year or so. Teachers made you run the 500-yard dash, climb a rope, and perform athletic feats that generally were beyond me. If I was going to get a "B" in anything, it was gym. (I always received points for trying; I am persistent that way.) I stayed sick (no one knew I had asthma back then), and running was not easy for me.
In the fourth grade, though, Donna and I were to race the 500-yard dash together. Donna was my friend and I didn't want to disappoint her. Being one of those kids who tended to have to walk at least the last quarter of the run, that was a possibility.
When Mrs. Lanning blew the whistle so we could start the run, Donna was beside me, and she set a nice steady pace. I matched it. Together we ran the 500-yard dash, the whole thing, and we did it in one minute and 58 seconds. I remember the time specifically because I was never able to repeat it and the two-minute mark eluded me ever after.
What a joy that was, to actually run the entire way and do it in an acceptable time.
My other athletic memory involves baseball. I suppose it was really softball. I think this was in the fifth grade. The class had split into two groups for a ball game - I, of course, was always one of the last picked - and I was sent to the far outfield. I'm afraid I was one of those girls who would cover her head if the ball came in her direction and turn around for fear it was going to hit me in the nose. Should that happen, then I would be Marsha Brady with a busted nose all over again.
Usually I did not have a glove, but for some reason I managed to grab a glove when I went out to the field. I recall a beautiful spring day, like the one we have today, perhaps, with the sky azure and an occasional cloud drifting by. A light breeze blew the dandelions.
The pop fly came toward me out of nowhere. I could hear the groans from my teammates as they saw where the ball was headed. Bases were loaded and I was going to drop the thing and we were going to lose.
From somewhere deep inside me, the courage sprang into my throat. I took two steps forward and the ball went "plop" right into my glove. I felt the sting in my right hand and I covered the ball with my left to be sure I didn't drop it.
The thing I remember most was the admiration of the boys on the perfect catch. I didn't shy away and I caught it beautifully; it was the third out and we won the game. I was the heroine of the afternoon, queen for the moment. I never shone again in a team sport, but for one glorious afternoon, life was good.
I ran the race and I caught the ball.
What more could a little girl want?