Kalamity K

The Daily Chaos of Kalamity K
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2005-08-23 03:08:11 (UTC)

Umpires, A Sports Rant and A Fork in the Road, Part II

.../2

I don't think I'm going to get a chance to finish all of
this like I wanted to but I'm going to give myself another
13 minutes as I watch my beloved Blue Jays trail the
Yankees 7-0 in the top of the 9th. GREAT. That'll be
four losses in a row, including a 17-6 drubbing by the
Tigers to cap a 3-game sweep by that team that apparently
flattered the Jays. Sigh.

I read something the other day about youth sports and the
pressures faced by kids these days, from their parents and
coaches and even themselves. As I mentioned, I grew up in
a sports-intensive atmosphere, but also in a very well-
rounded atmosphere. Tuesday nights, when I was in primary
school, I had piano lessons at 4.45 5.15 p.m. and from
there went to my swim club practices from 6.00 to 8.00
p.m. (The Jays lose. Sigh.) I swam two or three times a
week and was becoming quite an excellent swimmer. I was
the youngest in the group by quite a bit - it always
seemed to be that way. I was developing into quite a
swimmer and won some competitions, but had to choose
between the sports I was participating in. I had already
played soccer since I was 5 and after two seasons of
swimming, I quit to play more soccer. I once was
interested in playing hockey, but again, never really did
because by then I was deeply into soccer. And I was a
mother fucking chicken to try new things. But whatever.
The other sport that I really excelled at for some time
was volleyball. I played competitively for a while, again
the youngest there - to the extent that the coach came to
my father one day and said, "I've never coached a kid so
young on this team. How hard can I push her?" My
father's considerate response was, "Kick her ass." I
think I was all of 10. Gee, thanks, Dad. But I was good -
very good - and had I been able to keep it up I would
have likely been close to as good as I was in soccer. In
both sports I was something of a defensive force, not as
offensive as I could have been, but my defence was
phenomenal. I know, I know, people say it all the time -
but had I chosen to, I really could have gone a lot
farther than I did.

The reasons I didn't are many and varied, as they always
are. I tore up my ACL halfway through high school and
never really got back into things as much as I could
have. I did go on to play for my university and played
exceptionally well at times, but my passion was waning. I
quit halfway through the second year and I still have a
bitter taste in my mouth through the way things
transpired. The kicker for the team was that after I quit
they needed me back and I wouldn't return. Whatever.

I was as much my own enemy as anything else ever could
have been. This is probably a familiar story for many who
have a certain talent for something. Geniuses are often
weird, right? [-smiles a bit-] I stood in my way a lot -
and I still do, for so many things. I was a headcase in
many respects and different from everyone else. Most of
my teammates didn't understand me at all. As the
goalkeeper, well, you are expectd to be a bit different
(the same as in hockey! you have to be a bit crazy to
throw yourself at people's feet, etc.) but I know they all
thought I was weird. I think in some ways some were
intimidated by me, looking back. I was smart - really
smart - I listened to different music, I was a bit aloof,
not interested in boys or going out and all of this. And
I was serious. Very serious. Too serious.

As much as I say I was mostly the author of my own demise,
I would be remiss if I glossed over the horrible moments I
spent with my father in and around the sports field. I
know he saw my potential and he was very athletic and
dedicated to his sports and he wanted me to do as well as
I could, but from as long as I can remember, I remember
loving and hating him being there. More than anything, I
remmeber being scared to make a mistake. I hated it. I
remember being screamed at that I wasn't good enough and
that I couldn't do it (he once told me it was to fire me
up and make me angry so I'd prove him wrong - and it often
worked) - and this, from when I was little. Like 8. Like
younger. Older. When I got older, it got worse and worse
and worse. There was one particularly bad time when we
screamed at each other in the car on the way home from a
loss, screamed for an hour. I was screaming, then bawling
my eyes out, my father was driving and yelling at me, and
my mother doing her patent-perfect sitting there doing
nothing. It was horrible. It got to the point where I'd
be in goal crying during games when I made the slightest
little mistake or perceived mistake. I'd sit there and
scream at myself during games. I can only imagine how
uncomfortable it made my teammates feel, though the ones
who played defence had similar parental relationships
regarding their sports. I can only imagine how it looked
to other people who didn't know me. I'm surprised I don't
have any scars on my arms from the number of times I was
so upset that I bit myself just to take out my frusrations
on myself.

I don't know...I don't know how to explain it
or what to say. It was a weird kind of pressure becasue
it was never my father sitting there saying I had to get a
scholarship or I would play professionally or if I didn't
play well, my life would be ruined. It was personal
pressure but it was every inch as terrible. He banned me
from having friends come watch me after I was in grade 6
and a friend came to watch me and I didn't play that great
and he deemed it was because I was distracted by my
friends. Then, there were the times when I was older,
when we were a 15 year old team of girls playing in a
boys' league indoors - I HATED INDOORS, EVEN ON A PROPER
INDOOR PITCH AND NOT A GYM - the boys were younger than us
by a couple of years, or a year - and my father saw a
student of his that he taught from school, playing on the
other team. He was alking to the kid after the game and
with me standing there he said with a laugh, "Yeah, she's
not very good, is she?" I was mortified. We lost huge
all the time, but we were playing in the league to make
ourselves better becasue we were better than almost all
our regular competition - by tons. We weren't supposed to
win. In fact, we were supposed to lose. And things like
that happened repeatedly and it was mortifying, upsetting,
devastating, painful, unimaginable. I know my father
loves me. I know he loved me then. I know he just wanted
me to do my best. But it backfired, tremendously. I was
left with zero confidence, zero belief in myself and,
well...even to this day, I feel like a shell of the person
I should be. I have a naturally crazy competitive streak,
but I can't play a friendly game of pick-up without these
old habits coming out and getting upset with myself and
yelling at myself and hating myself because my pass wasn't
perfect or my header didn't go the full twenty feet I
inteded. I can't tell you. I just can't tell you how
much I hate it. Not all pressure revolves around getting
scholarships or playing professionally or making whatever
big-time exists for one's sport. I don't think it's a
stretch to say I had the talent to play for a national
team - but the pressure was never about that - but it was
just as damaging.

I don't know. It was the same with my music, in some
respects, but the other side of the negative. I've played
music forever, and my mother paid for my lessons and came
to my concerts and recitals but the interest eventually
waned. The better I got, the less they would come. My
father rarely came anyway, but when my mother stopped
coming, it cut like a knife, but I couldn't say anything.
The last concert I ever gave in high school, there was no
one there. My mother asked if it was alright that she
didn't come. I said it was. What was I going to say?
You don't want to be there, I'd rather you not come. It
was painful. I broke down in sobs after I did my
presentations to the teachers/conductors of the bands I
was in and my thank-yous because I'd been in the school
for so long (from grade 1) and in their music classes and
bands for so long. But I was there alone. It hurt.
Terribly.

tbc...


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