I did not become a professional athlete. I was never even a part of a State Championship team. But I am better for playing sports growing up.
As a mother I can throw a ball with my boys. And yes, I throw like a girl. Not the hardest, but pretty darn accurate enough to record quite a few of 4-6-3 DPs in my day.
I play basketball in the driveway. I prefer HORSE, but I can still hang in there (for now) in a game of 21.
Also, being a ball player, even 21 years removed from graduation, is just practical as a parent. I have caught several canned foods just before they landed on someone’s toe. This is a valuable parenting skill!
I am able to coach or help with my boys’ teams. I understand the rules (except for soccer which I never played), and I can keep stats or a scorebook.
I can recite the infield fly rule. Just ask me. This might not be the most practical skill, but it is a good party trick and occasionally handy information.
Sports was a family affair for us. I played varsity, Daddy was the head or assistant coach depending on the sports, Mama kept the stats or book, and Rachel (my sister) anchored the junior varsity team. I love sharing these experiences with my own children and my husband.
Patrick once had a question for me about his athletic cup. Well, I had to defer to Dad on that one, but I told him I could tell him everything he needed to know about a sports bra. His nine-year-old self was not amused.
As a teacher, sports taught me how to run my classroom with discipline and fairness.
As a woman, sports honed my leadership skills and taught me pride and self-worth.
The friendship that you build with someone with whom you share a field or a court are like no other. There is a certain bond that develops when you share so many emotional experiences. And sports is certainly full of those emotional experiences, both highs and lows.
At the funeral of our beloved softball coach, Roger Cook, I found myself feeling guilty for not gathering all of these girls that were present at his funeral together while he was still alive. Some of the girls from teams before me lived as legends in my mind from the stories he would tell about them.
Don’t wait to tell your coaches thank you. Pick up the phone, or write him or her a letter. Tell them all of the ways they affected your life through sports and beyond. Do the same thing for your old teammates. You shared so much together, find a way to connect with them again.
Dust off your old glove and see if you’ve still got it. (I’ll bet you’ve still got at least some of it.)