Tag Archives: olympics

Olympic moments

9 Aug

If you have a television, then no doubt, you’re aware that the summer Olympics are playing right now. I like to watch the Olympics. Well, sort of. Some events worry me. Those uneven bars in gymnastics, for example. I worry that someone is going to fall off and bust their head. The same for the balance beam. I am overly concerned that these tiny little girls are going to land on their heads. It makes me shudder to think about it. I should get a gold medal for holding my breath the longest while a gymnast does his or her routine. I am sure I feel this way because I was so horribly un-talented in gymnastics. I specifically remember having to do the “horse” in gym class. We had to jump over it. I remember trying that one time, and my feet catching and not going through and so I landed on my head. That explains a lot, I am sure. I was no gymnast, that’s evident.

However, believe it or not, I was an athletic child. Anything that required eye-hand coordination was right up my alley. I did well in archery, softball, baseball, and while I was really too short for basketball, I really could dribble well, and of course, close to the ground. I wasn’t a great runner, and probably looked ridiculous trying, but if you hit the baseball far enough, even a slow runner can get to first base. I had a fast waddle.

My best athletic memory is from my fifth grade year. I was going to a small neighborhood school that had two grades, fifth and sixth, and about a dozen children in each. We used to play baseball out on the playground during recess. I usually got picked last for teams, a common occurrence for short people. The best baseball player of all of us was John Harvey, a very tall, blond-headed sixth grader. He could hit the ball ALL THE WAY to the back fence, which for him, was a homerun, because he could also run fast with those long legs. Everyone admired John. He was the star athlete.

One day, I was up to bat. As usual, all the kids in the outfield walked in closer, because I would, no doubt in their minds, either hit a pop-fly or not hit it very far. And even if I hit the baseball to the short stop or the outfield, I might not make it to first base in time to be called “safe.” I could hit the ball, I could catch the ball, I could throw a ball, but let’s face it…I was little and didn’t have a whole lot of leverage and those little, bowed legs couldn’t always get me to where I needed to go in a timely fashion.

The pitcher pitched the ball to me. I think John Harvey was the pitcher, but I’m not sure. I swung the bat and, for the first time in my life, all the stars lined up or the angels sang or  the magnetic field was in sync or my lucky rabbit’s foot was in my pocket, I don’t know. But I connected that baseball bat with that baseball and the ball, and I am not lying, went ALL THE WAY to the back fence, just like John Harvey’s hits always did! I made it to third base! And the story, for me, gets even better. The next time that I was up to bat, all the kids backed way out into the outfield, closer to the fence, expecting me to hit like that again. I never did do that again, that I can remember. That one hit to the back fence was my Olympic moment.

I played softball and basketball on my church girls’ teams all through junior high, until we moved. I even continued to play softball into my late 20’s, and was a pitcher on a church team. My sister, on the other hand, was not athletic and wasn’t interested in sports. My brother and I used to mercilessly tease her and tell her that she couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a beach ball. I sure hope she has forgiven us for that…

So, now that I am in my 50’s, my identity as someone who is athletic is pretty much non-existent. I can still throw a fly line, throw a ball, shoot my nephew’s bow and arrow, but really, I can no longer consider my self athletic. My sister, on the other hand…

On her 50th birthday in May, a couple months ago, her husband held a hula hoop contest at her party. Well, as soon as I heard him announce this contest, I knew who the winner would be…my sister. I think she can hula hoop for an indefinite period of time. Everyone at the party got their chance to show off their hula hoop skills before she got her time in the spotlight and I can assure you, no one came close to matching her ability and longevity. She can even hula hoop with her neck, which is a skill that she has apparently acquired since the last hula hoop contest she was in, which was my brother’s wedding reception in 1987. She won that one, too.

I, on the other hand, am completely inept at the sport of hula hooping. If I ever had any athletic ability from the waist down, I sure don’t have it now! Nevertheless, I volunteered to hula hoop at my sister’s party, prior to her taking the stage, and I am pretty sure that the hula hoop did not even travel around my waist one full orbit. I did not even qualify for a tin medal.

Interestingly enough, the hula hoop has been around for a very long time. From the website, http://www.hulahooping.com, we learn that, “No one knows for sure when or where a circle of willow, rattan, grapevines or stiff grasses became a form of exercise. We do know that Egyptian children played with hoops made out of dried grapevines, rolling them with sticks or whirling them around their waist. The ancient Greeks used hoops to exercise. A vase in the Louvre [dated 500-490 BCE] shows Ganymede rolling a hoop. However, there is no evidence that hooping was part of the early Olympics.”

Well, it should be a part of the Olympics now, then! Surely it takes as much physical ability to hula hoop as it does to play beach volleyball or ping pong.

Anyway, my sister, in my mind, is the undisputed champion hula hooper, and if there were gold medals to give out for that, I would personally place one around her neck and sing the national anthem. Her time has come…she is the true athlete!

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017