I Am No Olympian

    This was it, finally.

The sun was glaring down at me, beating me with its endless, Apollo-worthy electromagnetic hammer of brightness. Sweat flowed down my face like jubilant magma flowing from a cryptodomic volcano. The dust from the track rose around me like an army of killer bees, swarming around my adolescent head and stabbing into my open mouth like a drill-wielding dentist experiencing a severe sneeze mid-operation.

My legs were screaming; my lungs were wailing; my ears were chirping some sort of rather catchy soprano duet of pain. Miraculously, the runners beside me disappeared into the dust, and I heard the screams of the other team’s school, and I raised my arms out like Moses parting the Red Sea.

I had done it.

I had finished the race.

I got last place.

Yes, the runners had disappeared into the dust in front of me. Yes, my baton was about thirty yards back, dropped in my sweaty-palmed panic and enthusiasm. Yes, the sixth-graders were already pushing me out of the way, shouting for me to move my butt from the starting line.

That was my first and only race in the Eastside relay.

Hey, I’m not very good at sports.

There was way too much running in soccer to be appealing to me. My favorite part of golf was throwing the golf club after missing a putt. I was way too slow and mentally-distracted to be good at tennis; I moved on to tennis on the Wii and I sucked at that too.

I became a very competent poet during my time in baseball – the springtime flowers blooming in right field inspired many sonnets and haikus.

Inexplicably, when I finally begged to be in a new position, I was given the mantle of pitcher. Except, get this: I was actually good. Such power. Why did professionals need to be paid to pitch? It was amazing.

Unfortunately, my baseball days were nevertheless shut down: I found an almost animalistic ecstasy in dealing out the pitches, but it was never the same with receiving them. At the batter’s plate (wielding a bat that was always way too heavy, and a helmet that always made my ears itch), I would react to the pitch in roughly the same way that a squirrel reacts to a speeding train.

After these numerous sports-related disasters, I attempted cycling. Tragically, a near-fatal ankle injury finally spent me spiraling down the path of history and literature.

I haven’t participated in any form of team sport since the beginning of junior high. Here, at the end of high school, I still don’t have any serious inclination to join sports. But when I remember the feeling of power in gripping a baseball, the feeling of ecstasy that I felt at simply finishing a race, even in last place, I know that in the end, I still learned something during my awkward years of sports.