Sometimes You’re The Bat. Sometimes, You’re The Ball

by Christopher Paul on May 17, 2009

I could tell from a very early age that I wasn’t destined to be a professional athlete. My parents offered me every opportunity, though. While I am not this year’s Super Bowl MVP, captain of a Football/Soccer club, winningest golfer, or olympian with the most gold medals, I learned a valuable lesson: When it comes to sports, I am not the bat; I’m the ball. And that lesson was a hard one.

I think I first realized it when I was in a youth soccer league. I must have been seven or eight and it was in my second year on the team. I was on a good team but didn’t play that much; I think we had a good record that year and may have been undefeated. I do remember being excited when I was out on the field, though, and enjoyed just being able to run close to the ball even if I never got it. But one day, I got it! I was either passed the ball or I stole it from the opposing team and was so excited I ran with it.

And ran, I did.

I could hear my teammates yelling something at me; I presumed they cheered me on as I got closer to the goal posts. Even my coach was animated and I really thought I was going to score my first goal… EVER. I zigged & zagged; I dribbled the ball down field, got within feet of the goalie cocked my right foot and aimed for the upper left corner of the posts. I let my leg carry my foot closer to scoring a GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!

And I scored…

…against my own team.

Yes, my only goal I ever scored as a kid, was against my own team. I must have been so excited to get the ball, I forgot what side I was supposed to move toward. I didn’t realize the cheering was yelling aimed to get me to turn around and go the other way. And I didn’t realize the goalie (who did not wear the green shirts I wore) was on my team. The game went from 0-0 to 0-1 thanks to me. The coach was SO pissed and yelled at me.

I cried.

We lost that game. Like I said, I think that was our only loss of the season. And I don’t think I played for the rest of the year and I didn’t go back to soccer. The closest I’ve ever come to scoring a goal or winning the cup is when I play FIFA Soccer on the PlayStation.

As I grew older, I tried T-Ball and, then, Little League Baseball, and football. Each sport has its own “I suck” story that embarrasses me and makes me wish I was better coordinated. It wasn’t until I found track & field did I finally feel like I was decent at sports. Finding that solo activity provided me with another sports related lesson: I didn’t need a team to feel like I could succeed at sports or life.

All I needed was my own focus, determination, & strength to carry me through the race – to get me to the finish line on my own terms. And I found an inner resolve that I had not seen before. A resolve that gave me clarity and purpose: me. When I step up to the plate, I’m the ball; when I’m out on the field, I’m the ball that gets kicked. But when I run solo, I’m the bat; I’m the kicker…

… and I score for the right team.

Christopher Gizzi June 4, 2009 at 12:46 AM

Sweet! Looks like I got Facebook Connect to work on the site!

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