Loser, hoser, poser (or, for the more refined... "poseur"... yeah, whatever). Amazing how many words that end in -oser are negative in connotation.
They all have one other thing in common in that I feel that any of these words can be used to effectively describe my multiple attempts at athletic semi-stardom.
I played two years of youth soccer when I was five and six years old. Two years. One goal. In practice, no less. When I tried to score using the same method as my first goal, the defenders had already caught on to me. One goal and they read me like a volume of Dr. Seuss. They were five and six years old as well, for chrissake.
I played one year of park district baseball when I was roughly ten or eleven years old. Don't ask. It was ugly.
One season of B-team basketball in junior high in which I scored one basket. Otherwise, I just dribbled. And not very effectively at that. Basketball takes a lot more coordination than some people may give it.
One year of humiliation... er... water polo as a high school freshman. I think my desire to preserve some semblance of dignity kept me from doing too much in that sport. The less attention I brought to myself in a Speedo, the better. Speedos are not for me. Nor did they belong stretched thread bare across the asses of at least 75% of my teammates. Whoever conceived of Speedos as a viable athletic uniform should be shot and hung by the bits barely covered by his "creation."
One year of wrestling as a junior in high school. JV heavyweight division. While the uniform had a significantly closer fabric to flesh ratio, it was still pretty revealing. Yeah, no.
I also participated, as I saw fit, in track and field as a senior. I threw shot and discus and wasn't even close to decent. My best friend was a record holder. No way to compare. Maybe that's why I stopped showing up once the indoor season ended. I was at very few outdoor events. Or maybe it was because I was working more in anticipation of building my bank account for the start of my first year away at college. Who really knows?
Three years of football in high school, starting with my sophomore year, was probably the high point of my athletics career.
I was a B-team offensive tackle my sophomore year, a JV offensive guard my junior year, and a JV defensive tackle my senior year. I had a couple of decent plays here and there. I have one stat (no, not a record; just a stat) in the Waubonsie Valley High School (Aurora, Ill.) varsity stat guide for the 1992 season (solo tackle).
Football introduced me to the concept of "charity play" in which those of us with no chance of ever starting would be allowed to play in situations where we were either losing too badly to make matters any worse or winning by too much to ever possibly screw it up. Thankfully, our team was fantastic my senior year and I was able to play at least a little bit in all but five games that season (regular and postseason combined). Three games that season, we were winning by so much that I played an entire half. Not bad for an underachiever such as myself.
I took a reprieve from organized athletics during my undergrad and graduate years in college (save for a few months of fencing). Now I've started up again.
It began with a season of fall softball a couple years ago with the park district where I work part time. Nothing big. None of us were any good really, so I never stood out as the truly bad player that I am. Nice to blend in.
Last summer, I started playing sand volleyball, also through the park district. I'm playing again this year as well. I'm decent, but not really good. My timing is a little off and so is the placement of my fingers when I bump the ball. When the ball is not put in an orbit worthy of an XM Satellite, it is shot off to the side of the court at a speed that makes the volley voyeurs dive for cover. I can, however, serve pretty well. I've got good placement of the ball and I almost always clear the net well but without giving the other side too much air time to strategize to any grand level. Took me several games last year to figure out my serve. But once I got it, I was on. The problem arises in post-serve play. Our team is not that great at protecting the open areas on our side of the net. Not pretty.
This year, I picked up again on competitive softball, but through another park district. This team (the Henchmen) is good. Each player has their strengths and, from time to time, they play as a cohesive team.
Now, my athletic faults show through like a marinara stain on a white shirt.
And, unfortunately, it is reflected directly upon my time in the field. There have been a few instances where I have played an entire game, but usually just as an EH (extra hitter; the softball equivalent of a designated hitter). Occasionally, I will get in a half game as a catcher if I see any position play at all. Of course, there was my one time playing for LifeChurch that I played first base for two full games.
Last night, I was reminded of the concept of "charity play" again. We played our regular season ending double header. We are the first-place team in our division and we played the second-place team. They were two games below us. So, in order to maintain a solo claim to first place, we needed to win at least one game.
We were smoked in both. It was not pretty. And none of us "lesser" players were able to play at all, really. At least, not until the final inning of the second game. I saw a half inning at catcher and no at bats. It's frustrating. I understand the rationale. We want to win. But it is still just a park district team. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really matter too terribly much. Why relegate those of us who still took the time to drive in anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to time spent only on the bench? It sucked.
I wonder if LifeChurch will need a first baseman next year? They may not have the winning record that the Henchmen have, but I would at least be able to play.