>I’m beginning to get the sense that sports in the Midwest are a big deal. A really big deal.
Of course I noticed all the Buckeye Ohio State University paraphernalia when we came to visit. It was hard to miss the t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, and house flags. I thought that I might have to finally really try to understand the rules of football once we moved here, and that I might even have to plop my behind on a freezing stadium seat at some point.
But I didn’t realize that the sports enthusiasm spilled over into regular sports, the every day athletics for us mere mortals not playing college football.
When I registered Jack for soccer, something he would have had to wait another year to start in New Jersey, I was shocked to learn that his Ohio peers began playing in preschool. In the fall, when the season will begin, he will have soccer twice a week: one day of practice, and another of games. Sounds like a lot, but I think he will have a blast, especially as his daddy is coaching. Not sure which one is in for a ruder awakening.
My rude awakening took place this week, when I started playing tennis. I played in New Jersey twice a week, once for a foursome lesson with an instructor and another for a relaxed doubles game with friends. We often complained when our pro took it too easy for us. We complained that we wanted to sweat, wanted to be put to the test. But most of the time, the pros treated us like old ladies to be.
When I walked on the court on Tuesday, I expected more of the same. I started hitting the ball, pleased to see that my fellow players were really good. After a few minutes of warm up, the drills began in earnest. A quick play was explained, and the balls began flying.
I was keeping up, breathing hard, but feeling okay. A child walked by, calling to his mom, and I turned my head, momentarily distracted. The loud voice of the instructor called me back to earth, “Hello! Vanessa! Say hi to your friends in La La Land!” I blushed, laughed, apologized. She smiled and said, “Don’t apologize, just play.”
We got back to work, running, hitting cross court, punching volleys. A few minutes later, a ball whizzed past my racket, in that mysterious hole that sometimes appears where strings should be. Again, the instructor jeered, “Oh no! Looks like we have another Helen Keller on the court!” The other players laughed, and I did too, swearing silently to myself that I would not be missing any more balls. … And I didn’t.
I worked my butt off for two hours, sweating more than I had in months. The next day, I could barely lift my arm. And it felt wonderful. It was incredible to be pushed, to be treated like an athlete, to feel young again.
Sports in Ohio seem a little more intense, and I’m ready. Game on!