being a mom

I’m Learning To Play Basketball As An Adult To Inspire My Daughters

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basketball“I’m not good at sports.” This was the email reply I sent my friend Fran this past January when she invited me to join her women’s basketball team for a league here in LA. Bless her heart, I thought to myself, for thinking I could somehow get a giant orange ball into a net. Doesn’t she know who I am?

I am the girl who was never good at sports. This has been my narrative for as long as I can remember, and I’ve said it for so long it’s essentially become fact, falling in line after “I have brown hair” and I am very tall.” It’s something I’ve always believed about myself from the earliest age. It is my truth. I am not athletic. I am uncoordinated, awkward, and not good at sports. This is what I tell everyone.

When I was nine I ignored that truth for a moment and asked my dad to sign me up for a soccer team. One’s social status in my affluent, competitive town was heavily based on your skill level on the athletic field, and I desperately wanted to fit in. Plus it seemed like fun. But then I found out that Bailey, an older, popular girl with a perfect 80’s name, was also on the team. She was a jock to be reckoned with, one who wore Adidas Sambas for sport, not because they were cool. I panicked, anxious over how terrible I would be flailing my legs toward a soccer ball. At the last minute I begged my dad to get me dropped from the team, and from then on I avoided sports at all costs. Never again.

In middle school I was required to participate in a team sport and found myself back on the soccer field, where I was elected captain of the team. My nomination was not entirely out of left field. I was outgoing and sociable, a natural leader. Still, it infuriated the girls who actually knew how to play the game. “But she’s not good at soccer,” they told the coach right in front of me after I was elected. “She doesn’t even know how to play.”

Their words sent me shame spiraling – not because they hurt, but because I knew they were right.

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