Saturday, May 2, 2009


I have previously mentioned that I have an over developed sense of fair play in my post on Ulysses. I really don't know the origin for this but think it is probably hereditary as I had a very soft centered Mother. My story will use name changes but if you were there, you know who you are and if you witnessed it, then you were as lucky as I was.

I have always been just slightly above average as an athlete but never even close to exceptional. Comfortable in sports would best describe my abilities I am totally lacking in competitiveness. Winning is nice but losing is Ok also. I just wanted to play. Thus when it came to the dreaded,"pick to play"scenario, I was among the first picked. A nice feeling. It always killed me though to watch the lines dwindle down to the "last picked".

I was in my senior year in high school when the PE department put on an intramural volleyball tournament at the end of that session. The instructors picked 8 of us to be captains and it was our job to field a team from the long line of hopefuls. Everyone was supposed to participate. There were to be 7 players per team, six on the floor and one sub. The captains lined up and took our picks in sequence. The competitive would go for the best players while some would try to field their friends.

My first pick was Joan who was a good, competitive player but more important, a good sport. She was thrilled and stood behind me as the start of what she hoped would be a good team. When it came my turn again, I picked half of the "Two Sandys."

The Two Sandys were friends you always saw together, always isolated, thus the name. They were each others only friend. Big Sandy was way too tall. She had badly stooped shoulders trying to hide that fact. Joan was a bit shocked by my choice but made room for Big Sandy behind her and my team was forming. Big Sandy was confused but had a small pleased smile.

When it came time for my next pick, I picked Little Sandy. Little Sandy may have been a "little person", I wasn't knowledgeable enough in those days to be sure. She was tiny and hanging out with Big Sandy only emphasized her smallness. The term,"Mutt and Jeff" was often snickered behind their backs. The Two Sandys were so pleased to be on the same team so early in the pick. Joan was getting more concerned. What was I thinking?

Hanna was my next pick. Hanna had epilepsy and while she only had one seizure that I knew about, she was generally given a wide berth as if it were contagious. That made her seek the back of any line with the exception that she was very talented in the modern dance portion of PE . Paula came next. She was very over weight but also did well in dance class. Typically light on her feet but sucked at sports.

By now, Joan was not thrilled to be on my team. She saw only crushing defeat in store for us. However, I was not picking a winning team, I was just trying to keep these girls from being picked last. I couldn't stop. My last pick was Susanna who had terrible acne but some athletic ability. I stayed true to my goal. I had a team of misfits and loners. They were confused but they seemed to hold their heads a little higher and paid close attention as I ran over our game plan.

We played in a single elimination tournament. Lose and you were out. I played in the first game but benched my self through out the rest of the games much to Joan's distress. Even the instructors asked me why I was sitting out, was I OK? I kind of half ways fibbed and said that I couldn't coach and play at the same time. Truth was, I was just thrilled with how my little team was playing. I wanted them to feel what it was like to win. I all ready knew that feeling. The other teams, who thought they had an easy win when the saw us as opponents, were suddenly giving us a bit of respect. We would not be rolled over.

Big Sandy could not spike but she was awesome at blocking shots. Suddenly her tallness was a good thing. Little Sandy got those close to the floor digs, being small was now an asset. Paula put her weight behind the serves and few could handle them. Hanna's natural balance and surprising speed, made her solid in the middle along with Susanna. Joan ran her self ragged picking up any slack. We were winning. Each unique girl played a unique role.

It would be nice to say we won it all that day but that only happens in the movies. We did place third though which was amazing. Those girls played over their heads and as a unit. We didn't know "high fives" in those days but there was a bunch of back slapping and hugs. This was from girls that previously had not even spoken to one another. I was so proud of them but most importantly, they were proud of them selves. It was a way cool day.

We didn't get any trophies but the first 3 teams were acknowledged. We were given gold stickers in the shape of a star that had a big "3rd" hand stamped in the center. All of us plastered these on our note books. No we didn't all magically become close friends and start hanging out, but we were bonded. We now smiled and spoke when we passed in the halls displaying our simple gold stickers proudly.

Thank you girls for giving me such a special memory. You truly are the best. Love ya.


  1. Patti, such compassion and fair-play in a high school girl? I am impressed (again)!

  2. What a trip down memory lane. I being quite short and somewhat dowdy was always picked last, every in the bottle races in elementary school. Running track was a bummer. I was pretty good at softball, especially hitting. But I was pulled after I got to first base.

    But in academics I was picked first for spelling, for English, for band.

    But my failures in athletics when young contributed to my disdain for physical activity throughout life.

    You never know what is imprinted on our young psyches!

    Maybe at a very young age, someone like you would have re-directed me

  3. You're a remarkable individual, now and then!

    As a kid, I tried hard to hide from anything remotely resembling physical activity; I would much rather have my head in a book. I'm sure, when push came to shove, I was always the last one picked for activities such as the one you've described.

  4. kenju
    My Mother led by example since I could remember. She and I shared an unrealistic wish for a kinder, gentler world where no creature felt pain or hunger. Sometimes I tried hard, others I fear I just went with the flow, kind of like all of us.

    You have figured out what we all should in our early years. We can't always fit a mold. Most often those areas that we don't excel in are unimportant when we measuree them against the ones where we do excel.

    Look how much you have accomplished. Being picked first means nothing in 10 years. It is just hard to convince a kid of that.
    Making everyone sequentially count off, then all the one's would be a team, all the two's a team, etc. So much smarter and fairer. Wonder why that method isn't used?

  5. Well, I guess I have to tell the story I have always sworn would be told only to a psychiatrist.

    In 8th grade we started to playing 'Kissing games" at parties. That was OK except if Johnny Macklin (Not his real name)was there. Johnny had a sinus problem and his nose ran like a fire hose. It was disgusting.

    We were playing "Wink" All the boys sat in chairs in a circle and the girls stood behind them. You would look at a boy and slyly Wink at him and he had to dash to your chair and kiss you. Naturally, nobody winked at Johnny Macklin; The game had been going on for about 15 minutes and every boy had been winked at several times except,of course, poor Johnny.

    Well, my heart was aching for him so I winked at Johnny and he jumped up, knocked over his chair, fell over his own feet and rushed ,with his lips puckered and snot pouring out of his nostrils, to my chair and there was nothing I could do but kiss him.It was the worst moment of my young life,but it apparently made Johnny very happy to be included in the kissers, because he had a big smile on his face the rest of the party.

    We were classmates for a few years after that and although we never kissed again he always smiled when he saw me and "Winked".

    I heard many years later that John W.Macklin M.D. was one of the most respected Ear,Nose and Throat specialists in the city....

  6. Nancy
    What a wonderful, if a little nauseating, story. You done good girl and what a great ending. Love that he became a ENT specialist. Have you "winked" at him lately? Proud to know another soft heart. Sometimes you just have to put your self on the line.

  7. I came back to read the others comments. I am reminded of my son, who told me once, when I asked him why he was a friend to a certain boy,
    "Mom, if I wasn't his friend, he wouldn't have any." I have never been prouder of him than I was then. He was 14 years old.

  8. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I tried out for a little kids baseball league. I distinctly recall the coach telling my folks that I was "too small" to play. This stuck with me through the years. I never tried out for any sport again. Ever. I don't think they could get away with that today, but who knows.

    In high school I got a little lanky and was pretty scrawny. Seeing this, the track coaches begged me to join track. I flat out refused. Instead I started working, and have not stopped.

    Aside from the mandatory gym classes required to get through school, I had no desire to try out for anything.

    Last year my friend and co-worker over at Fooseberry Pie (see my blog) got me into running. I love it. I sometimes wish I had set out to prove that ignorant baseball coach wrong and become involved with sports. I am happy with my running now.

    Patti, I can tell you that you probably made a difference in at least one of those lives.

  9. kenju
    I just love that 14 year old boy. You should feel proud not only of what a great kid he was and still has to be, but also that you and Mr. did everything right raising him. I'm proud of you both.

    I love sports and love to see kids play but I also see stuff like what happened to you still going on today. There are some wonderful coaches but then there are those who just want to win, damn the kids. Too bad the young ones can't play the game without keeping score. Sports shoud be a grand way to get exercise, not an ordeal.

    Shame Fooseberry wasn't around earlier but glad she made it when she did. Know you love running after seeing the picture of you running in shorts on a cold day.
    Keep those feet a pounding Barry. Your arteries will thank you.

  10. Patti, that was a terrific tale. You showed such a wonderful way for a young girl. My Sean was often doing like things in school and now as an adult. He & Marymine are both making their mom proud. Thanks for reminding me, and for being YOU.