(c) 1996 by the Colorado Daily, (c) 2011 with additional text by Laurie Kay Olson
Hi, my name is Laurie, and I’m a sports-dysfunctional.
There needs to be a 12-step program for this.
One of the problems with growing up ion Boulder is that you are expected to be imbued with a certain amount of athletic excellence – and unfortunately I am the anti-athlete.
While most people manage to trot out some little story about how they were always the last one to be picked for a team, in my case it was worse. The team captains would stand and argue about who had to take me until the teacher would show up and force me onto one of them. The embarrassing thing is that this would happen even when one of the captains was my best friend. My friendships didn’t last long during sports season.
When I was ten years old, I managed an amazing feat while hitting golf balls with my cousin Rick. I managed to catch one of his drives – with my right eye. He went on to be an excellent golfer while I gave up on golf with a spectacular shiner.
I admit it. I was a tremendous klutz. This was facilitated in part by the fact that I had shot up to five feet tall and fully developed by the time I was eleven. I was too tall and round to compete with my short, stick-figure classmates – making me comparatively unbalanced. OK, let’s be honest – I was top-heavy.
I have clear Charlie-Brownish memories of enthusiastically trying to kick a soccer ball, only to end up on my back in the grass, staring at the sky. I would be there for a few moments contemplating the chances that anyone would ever mistake me for a jockette. Then I would get up and reluctantly return to humiliate myself again.
Add to this the hideous gym suits that had a tendency to ride up your butt, give you holster-hips, and hide your figure just when you were starting to discover what to do with one, as well as communal showers with two-dozen other girls, and gym quickly became my least favorite part of any given day.
In high school I finally found that I had some small talent for volleyball. Not great, though, for my growth spurt had stalled shortly past 5-3 which made me a little short at the net. And, alas, volleyball, too, fell by the wayside. There must be something about me that gives people the impression that I couldn’t possibly manage to hit a ball if my life depended on it (unless it could be four-eyes and thunder-thighs . . . hmmm, could be).In my last game, a teammate decided that I wasn’t going to get the ball headed directly for me. In a split second, his head was between the ball and my hand. The heel of my hand shoved his nose into his brain-pan for the briefest moment. He wound up on the floor, squirming in agony, hands over his nose, tears coming from his eyes and me bending over him with laughter, having just experienced the reality of slap-stick shtick.
For the safety of those around me, I have decided to avoid all sports that involve balls, bats, racquets, teams, or other players (heaven help us if I ever decided to try the javelin or discus). I have resorted to such activities as swimming, although I have to be careful not to get my face in the water so I won’t drown.
Delores, the woman who works where I swim, has kindly memorized all necessary emergency numbers, including the county coroner, taken a refresher course in mouth-to-mouth, and has programmed 911 into the speed dial of her cell phone. I hope she’ll never need it, but with my track record, she’d better have her dialing finger poised the next time I wade into the pool.
(Editor’s note: Laurie Kay Olson is rooting for the Rockies to win the Super Bowl.)
(Author’s note: I am extremely grateful to Delores who eventually did have to call 911 at my request when my mother had a stroke at the pool five years ago. Bless you Delores!)