Monday, April 18, 2011

My Apparent Issue With Balls

Yep.  I have some problems with balls.  It all started in high school.  With my gym teacher. 

Yes.  You read that correctly.

Now please remove your mind from the gutter and read below.

Two Ball Stories

Story One

So my last year of gym we had a semester of tennis, and a semester of archery.  Tennis was first, and I couldn't wait.  I loved watching tennis on TV, and I never really had the chance to actually learn how to play.  And now we were going to have an entire semester of it, and wasn't that going to be so exciting?

I already knew that I was going to be so very good, that I had planned on going and buying several new tennis outfits with those cute little skirts.  And I imagined myself going to Wimbledon, and all the sports commentators would talk about how I had been such a late starter, but yet here I was playing against Steffi Graf for the championship just three years after I started playing. 

I obviously had a very high opinion of my abilities to pick up new sports.  The problem was, although my heart knew I was absolutely supposed to be an overnight tennis sensation, the rest of me didn't. 

So over the first few weeks of gym class, the hour went like this. . .

1.  Get bucket of tennis balls and a racket.
2.  Look around for a partner.
3.  Wonder why no one will make eye contact with me.
4.  Tell myself it must be that they are afraid of the talent that is sure to come pouring out of me at any moment.
5.  Be paired up with someone who has some tennis talent already.  This person does not want to play against me, but the coach makes them.  I again reassure myself that they are actually afraid of what they must surely know is coming.
6.  Serve the first ball.
7.  Walk over to the net and get it.
8.  Serve the next 6 balls.  Watch as they fly over the fence.
9.  Serve another one.
10. Walk over to the net and get it.
11.  Hit the remaining bucket of balls, and then call over the coach to tell him that I have hit all my tennis balls over the fence.
12.  Watch as coach mutters something under his breath (Surely he didn't just say the "f" word, did he?), and wait patiently as he retrieves all the tennis balls he can find.  He usually comes back with one or two less than I started with.
13.  Wait for the person across the net from me to serve to me.
14.  Hit the first 7 serves over the fence.
15.  Hit the next two serves into the net. 
16.  Go and get the ball.
17.  Hit the remaining serves over the fence.
18.  Tell the coach we don't have any tennis balls left. 
19.  Repeat of step 12.

And this would repeat until the hour was over, or until the coach couldn't find any more tennis balls.  The coach spent an inordinate amount of time with me and my partner of the day (well, OK, just with me), trying to show me the way to hold the racket, how to swing, how to serve, etc etc.

By the way, I'm not kidding.  This is all true.

But I didn't care.  I was learning how to play tennis.  And I was stoked!  If, by some complete miracle, I did manage to keep one in play for a (very short) volley, I'd end up doing a celebratory dance as though I'd just scored the winning touchdown in the Superbowl.  That's how excited I'd get.  Because I was learning!  Wimbledon?  Get ready cos HERE. I. COME.

About a month into the semester of tennis, my gym teacher came up to me while I was picking out a tennis racket.  I remember being irritated because someone had already grabbed the one I had been using for a while.  And I remember that I had been planning on asking the school if I could take it to Wimbledon with me.  I kind of considered it "my" racket now.  I was just scoping out the other students to see if I could negotiate a trade of some sort when the coach came over and asked if I could step aside and chat with him a moment.  Since I was pretty sure I knew what he was going to say, I smiled as humbly as I could, and said, "Oh, sure.  No problem."

I stood there and gloated as the other students grabbed rackets and tennis balls.  The coach got them all started, and then he came over to where I stood.  I smiled at him again as he came over and stood in front of me.


"Yes coach?" 

"You know you're failing, right?"



That wasn't what he was supposed to say!!!!  How can I be failing?  I'm going to Wimbledon in three short years!  I need all the practice I can get!  This is ridiculous!

I looked at the coach.  I actually waited for him to say, "Just kidding!  Get out there and show me what you've got!"

But he didn't.

Instead, he said it again.

"Carolyn.  You know you're FAILING, right?"  And yes.  He said the failing part louder. 

"Um.  But I'm really trying."

"Oh.  I know.  Believe me.  I know you are."

"I really REALLY want to learn how to play."

"Right.  I get that."  Silent stare for a moment.  Then, "I'm going to give you a choice."

Oh?  Maybe some after school lessons?  Cool.
"You can either continue to try and learn how to play and I'll have to fail you, or you can SIT OUT THE REST OF THE SEMESTER AND I'LL GIVE YOU A 'C'."


I was dumbfounded.  I didn't know what to say.  I had never wanted to learn a sport so badly in all of my life.  It was unfair!  I'd been cheated! 

I stood there for a minute and pondered the two choices.  Then I heard:


My last Wimbledon dream went down like a flaming heap of dung as I heard the teacher say that.  I sat out the rest of the semester.  I was only allowed to get up and hit a ball if another teacher or staff person came out.  But I must admit.  The flame had gone out, and it wasn't nearly as exciting to hit those balls over the fence as it was before.

Story Two

This story is much shorter, but no less important.

When Jamey and I were dating, he played golf occasionally.  And when he knew he would be playing, Jamey would go to the driving range a few days before, buy a bucket of balls, and hit golf balls.

One time, he invited me to go.  And I was all excited because I knew, in that exact moment, that I was going to become the first female to win the Masters.  Or whatever tournament it was where you get that green blazer.  After all, I look awesome in green.

So off to the driving range we went.  I could hear all the talk in my head.  Everyone pointing and talking about how incredible it was that I could hit a golf ball so far and so straight.  Even in 40mph winds.  And with a putter!  They would say I could make the ball go wherever I wanted it to go. 

We get to the range, and Jamey buys two buckets of balls.  He hands me one of the golf clubs, and the smallest bucket.  We set up side by side.  I watch him hit a few, just to let myself get a feel for the whole thing. 

Then, I set up my first ball on the tee.  And I swing.  And I'm looking for it.  And I'm totally amazed.  I can't even SEE it!  It must be going so far, and so fast that. . .


"Yes, Jamey?"  (Still scanning the horizon waiting for the ball to drop.)

"What are you doing?"

"Looking for my ball."  (He doesn't sound amazed.  He sounds. . . perplexed?!?!?)

"Did you look down?"

"Huh?"  So I look down.  There's a ball sitting on the tee.  Weird.

"How'd that get there?"  (Back to looking for the ball I hit.  It's bound to land any minute now.)

"That's your ball.  You never hit it."

"What do you mean?"

"Your club didn't make contact with the ball."

"Oh."  Now I'm perplexed.  I look down again and think to myself that it must have been a fluke.

I hit it again.  And I immediately look down to make sure it left the tee.  But it's still there.  And I repeat this over and over again.  And this becomes my experience at the driving range.

1.  Swing the club.
2.  Look down to see that the ball is still there.
3.  Swing again.
4.  Repeat steps one through three several times.
5.  Swing the club.
6.  Look down.  The ball is not there.
7.  Look out about a foot from the tee.  There is the ball.
8.  Reach out, pick ball up, and replace on tee.


I hit one ball the whole afternoon.  Jamey finished his bucket and then hit my bucket of balls (minus the one I had been using all afternoon.)

He never asked me to go back to the driving range again.

It's things like this that made me switch to blogging.

Happy day everyone!


  1. long lost golf twin. Though...hate to say it but...I think I'm improving.

  2. Love it all! I was on the tennis team in high school- only because they needed another warm body to have enough students to make a team and I was the only one willing! And I also had a similar experience with golf balls and Al- except I never even got 1 ball off the tee... I prefer putt-putt these days....


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