I played four seasons of softball in high school. I use the term "played" loosely.
My dad is a baseball lover. He even played in an "old guys" league well into his 60s. He inspired me to play, too. He and my mom would come to all my games (sadly, some of the few parents who did), and join me in cheering on the team. From the bench.
You see, I was not terribly focused on the game. I was more interested in other extracurricular activities. I spent more energy on boys than learning how to throw like them. I never learned to not throw like a girl, except for the season I took up throwing sidearm. It seemed better at first, then I paid for it with elbow pain.
But I liked being on the team. I liked riding the school bus to away games. It felt good on the days I helped rather that hindered the team. I was pretty good at fielding, though the nervous throw that followed was usually wild. I even liked wearing the polyester uniforms. And oddly enough, I played my best at second base during sophomore year when I was issued uniform number thirteen.
In my senior year, my sister started high school and joined me on the field. My parents would come to see our games which played simultaneously. But they would hang out mostly at the J.V. field, my dad glancing occasionally through binoculars up at the Varsity field in case I got in the game. And who could blame him? I was a first string bench warmer while my sister was a kick-butt catcher who could bullet the ball to anywhere in full gear and on one knee from behind home plate.
Since high school, I have mostly shied away from opportunities to play softball. Until recently. There is a neighborhood friend Valerie's age who plays. Her dad coaches her team. So, we set up the bases on our (quiet) street and the girls wail on the ball and I get to field again. And pretend to know what I'm doing.
What's surprising to me is that my reflexes are still pretty good. And it is fun. Maybe since I have no one to let down, I'm not so nervous.
It turns out, I did learn a lot all that time on the field. Little did I know my most important use of the fundamental skills of softball would come to me twenty plus years later, playing ball in the street with my kids.
(Photo: Andrew tries out Mama's old glove.)