Friday, July 11, 2008

Things You Might Not Know About Me: Rachel as Sporty Spice

This post is first in what may become a series.

The summer following 11th grade, I went to Israel for six weeks on a program through my summer camp. The beginning of this post finds me panting as I climb the ridge of a mountain in the Negev desert. The rest of my group is ahead of me. The only person behind me is Elad, our armed guard of the week, who makes sure nobody gets left behind (I did get left behind at a beach in Tel Aviv, but that's another story). Elad says to me, "I don't get it. You seem to really like hiking, and you have great hiking boots, but you're so slow. You're always the last one." Israelis are pretty forward, so I know his curiosity is genuine; he's not trying to put me down. And quite the opposite, I take it as a compliment. Elad's observation is a perfect summation of the story of Sports & Me.

I am by no means an athletic person - I'd take Wii Tennis over real tennis any day - but I do enjoy being active. My general distaste for sports probably stems from the humiliation I suffered at the hands of my elementary school gym teacher. At the beginning of every class period, we'd have to run laps around the gym. Fine. No big deal. The traumatic part was when the teacher would disallow passing. At this point, the entire class would lap me and be stuck running behind me. As their frustration increased, so did my mortification, until they all finished and I was left to run my last lap alone. And so a string of similarly cruel gym teachers discouraged me early on from enjoying physical education.

I used to hate team sports - I didn't like anything where I could cause the team to lose - and so I'd goof off instead of trying to play well and failing. I liked Capture the Flag because I didn't have to make a run for the flag if I didn't want to, which I never did. I was damn good at guarding the jail, though.

To this day, the sports I really like are non-competetive. Ultimate Frisbee is the most competetive sport I play (although unfortunately I haven't played in a long while), and it's known for being laid-back, holding the Spirit of the Game holy above all else. I don't get many opportunities to be active these days. When I was much younger I took horseback riding lessons, and five styles of dance classes - ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, and flamenco. We haven't been on a vacation in a while, but my family likes sporty getaways such as snorkeling and kayaking in Belize or downhill skiing and snow tubing in Maine. On a school trip I went ice climbing, cross-country skiing, and dog sledding. At camp last year I was the head of the rock climbing staff. I love hiking.

When I was thirteen I tried to go to the gym at the JCC with my sister, but I got kicked out because I was a year too young to use any of the equipment. I didn't go back. Of course, It's easy to blame my lack of athleticism on bad experiences. But the real reason is that for a long time I had a lack of motivation. I'd made up my mind that I was bad at sports, so I turned my attentions elsewhere.

This past semester, I started going to the gym at school. All it took was a few friends to show me the ropes. Now, I've started boxing. I'd always wanted to learn how to box, and this summer I finally have the opportunity. I love it. The people and trainers at my gym are all wonderful. I feel myself getting stronger and more competent. I might even step into the ring to spar before the summer's over.

But don't get me wrong - I still loves mah Wii Sports.


Below: Mini Golf is totally a legitimate sport.

No comments: