I have spent most of my life as a competitive dancer after trying, and failing at excelling at, different sports. And although I was not gifted in both soccer and baseball, I did have defining moments in both.
My mother signed me up to play baseball when we moved to a new town. I was transitioning from attending private school to public school so this was her best solution to meet my peers. Though the teams were co-ed my team, the Texas Rangers, only had one other girl. Therefore, the only friends I made were boys in a time when they still had cooties.
I found baseball absolutely boring. I would be placed in the outfield and stand around game-after-game because at around 8 years old no one was hitting any grand slams. I spent my time in the outfield doing ballet, dancing around in my own world. The concept of catching a ball with my big leather glove was not one I practiced.
The coach decided to move me closer to him in order to focus my energies from ballet to baseball. He stood on the pitcher’s mound and I stood right off his shoulder. He called us all to put our gloves up and then he pitched.
I did not hear the crack of the ball flying off the bat nor did I hear the coach yelling at me to pay attention. The only sensation I felt was the slamming of the ball into my glove. I was so shocked I tensed my hand. I had caught the ball.
Now I could say that I saved the game and helped my team advance to the playoffs but honestly, I don’t remember the details about this game. All I cared about was that I, one of the girls on the team, had caught a ball and gotten a batter out. Besides entertaining the spectators who were just as bored with the game as I was with my outfield ballet, I had contributed to the team. That’s all I needed to feel fulfilled from my season playing baseball and decided not to return for another year.
I did however decide to try soccer. I figured there was more action and back and forth in the game than the standing around in baseball. But I found as much as I hated standing around, I hated running more.
Luckily for me, soccer offers a variety of positions. I did not have the speed or endurance to be a forward but I found a home on the defensive line. Whether I was defense or halfback my main focus was always to keep the ball away from the goal.
I was passionate about my position and didn’t back down as I got in the way of charging offensive players from the other team. The first time I got really aggressive, I remember getting reamed in the side of my face with the ball. After feeling the sting I realized it didn’t actually hurt all that bad. After that, I never feared getting hurt.
Though there were many bruises and sprained body parts I loved the sport. But because of the many injuries, I had to make a decision: remain with my competitive dance school or continue playing soccer.
If it wasn’t evident by baseball ballet, I chose to pursue my dancing more seriously. But I still love playing soccer for fun and I’m still not afraid to get hurt so my early experiences with playing on the teams I did opened the doors to other sports I have tackled just for fun.