being a mom
I’m Learning To Play Basketball As An Adult To Inspire My Daughters
“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. Doesnâ€™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 Iâ€™ve said it for so long itâ€™s essentially become fact, falling in line after â€œI have brown hairâ€ and I am very tall.â€ Itâ€™s something Iâ€™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. Oneâ€™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 80â€™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. â€œBut sheâ€™s not good at soccer,â€ they told the coach right in front of me after I was elected. â€œShe doesnâ€™t even know how to play.â€
Their words sent me shame spiraling – not because they hurt, but because I knew they were right.