I lack the coordination required to do a layup. There is no hope of me, ever, making a slam dunk (even with a child-sized basketball hoop and the aid of a trampoline). Thanks to my hobbit-like stature, there is no way I can compensate for my lack in coordination with sheer, brute strength. I’m roughly the size of a slightly chubby, fifth-grade girl. I have no brute strength.
In short, you really do not want me on your basketball team.
With freakishly non-athletic types like me there is always a lingering hope that we can prove useful in sports with our brains because we’re so pathetically lacking in the brawn department. Um, yeah, I can’t help you there either.
Turns out, I do not have the competitive drive and strategic savvy required to be useful as a coach, an assistant coach, or even as that girl who goes around shooting water bottles into players’ mouths. If I was the water bottle girl, I’d probably just wander over to the other team’s bench and give those players water too. I mean if one of them looked really thirsty, what am I supposed to do, just not give him water? Excuse me for being empathetic. All of sudden that’s a bad thing? Sheesh.
But apparently, in sports it is occasionally a bad thing. Apparently in sports you’re actually supposed to want to beat people. You’re supposed to want to do whatever it takes to beat that other team. You’re supposed to be okay with your coach yelling at you and your teammates, if all that yelling and screaming will help you beat that other team. You’re supposed to be okay with that stuff.
I am not okay with that stuff. This is the only thing I learned from my brief participation in sixth grade intramural basketball.
So here is the thing, as surprising as it may seem, in sixth grade I wasn’t that terrible at basketball. Having already topped out growth-wise at a then respectable 5 foot 1 inch, I wasn’t tall for my age but I wasn’t as laughably short in comparison to my peers as I am now.
This was the brief, fleeting moment of my life when I could very occasionally outperform my taller peers in athletic events. This was only because my taller friends’ limbs were growing at alarmingly fast rates and they couldn’t get a handle on them. Who could blame them for being very momentarily side-tracked by that awkward gangly stage of puberty? It happens to everyone who outgrows Danny DeVito.
This was my athletic prime. I could occasionally make baskets. I was surprisingly adept at running around in circles while dribbling (mostly because I’m hyperactive and just really like running around in circles). But perhaps, the most surprisingly thing about my brief sixth grade athletic glory was my rebound skills. I could just not stop grabbing rebounds, so much so that my coach actually noticed. No one had noticed anything athletic I’d done before (likely because it had never happened before).
But instead of commending me on my hustle (a.k.a. the only compliment ever given to short people trying to play sports) my coach went all negative on me. Instead of encouraging my athletic development, my coach screamed at my presumably-more-promising, much taller teammate/friend to “Stop letting the short girl grab the rebounds. You’re embarrassing yourself.” (Okay, I paraphrased that because it was 14 years ago and I didn’t know I’d later try to recount the story verbatim, but that was basically the gist of it.)
Now being 12-years-old, I took this to mean I should stop trying to grab the rebounds so my coach should stop screaming rude things at my friend. So I tried a little less, I pulled back my hustle, and I let the tall girls grab the rebounds.
I could say my sixth grade intramural basketball coach is the sole reason I didn’t later become a basketball superstar. I could say that, but you’d all know I was lying. I’m pretty sure the fact that I stopped growing at age 11 probably had a lot more to do with it.
Also, my lack of basketball glory may have something to do with the fact that I seem to be getting progressively less coordinated with each passing year. Oh, and my complete lack of competitive drive probably plays a part as well. Yeah, it’s probably that stuff, but we’ll never know for sure Ms. SixthGradeBasketballCoach.
We’ll never know for sure…
Okay, who am I kidding, I had no shot at basketball glory. I, like the rest of the people who never satisfied their hoop dreams, will just have to take solace in my March Madness bracket-picking abilities. I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty good at randomly picking between basketball teams (most of which I’ve never heard of before).
I’m pretty darn good at it in fact.
So take that Ms. SixthGradeBasketballCoach. That’ll teach ya’.