Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Finally Making the Team

In elementary school, I was an avid baseball player and loved playing tackle or touch football with my neighborhood friends . When I tried out for an organized team upon entering Iolani in the 7th grade, I learned that I was way behind in skills and development.

I tried out for baseball in the 7th grade and was totally hopeless. As a catcher, I couldn't reach 2d base. I was confused on where to throw the ball during in- field warmups. Least of all, I couldn't hit the ball. There didn't seem to be any such thing as player development for weak kids. That one practice was my last.

The following year, I tried out for the 9th grade football team. I tried my best to keep up with the team drills. I played one play as an offensive guard in a scrimmage against a team from the Koolau boys home. The defender opposite me looked like he was going to eat me alive. Talk about an intimidating "stink eye". The play happened so fast. All I remember was being knocked on the ground and biting my lip and tasting blood and dirt.

Shortly afterwards, I got cut from the team and although it was a relief for me, I felt bad for my my father who was a high school football standout because I thought that I had let him down.

For some idiotic reason, I went out for JV football. I felt like a clown in uniform. My last memory of the experience was being blocked during a scrimmage. When the team was called together to get into a huddle, I couldn't get up. My legs wouldn't move. I thought that I was paralyzed. It was a relief to have been cut from the team this time.

Track and cross-country were marvelous options for those of us who couldn't make a team sport like baseball, basketball or football. It was an individual sport where one would not be cut from the team unless he didn't try his best. That was the nature of the sport. As a senior, I finally placed third running in the 440 in the novice division at a track meet on Maui.

At age 47, I started learning how to play soccer after a decade of long distance running. After three years of trials and tribulations playing or faking makule (over 30) soccer, I was invited by Lloyd Nishimoto, ten years my junior, to play with the Iolani alumni soccer team in their annual game against the varsity.

The most exciting thing was being able to wear an Iolani varsity jersey. I played left rear defender for 15 minutes of the first half. I held my major mistakes. During the potluck festivities at the end of the game, I was awarded the game ball signed by the coach, Bob Barry, for being the oldest player. Life couldn't get any better than that. Iolani No Ka Oe!


Elliott Lum said...

Bob: Your story hit some sympathetic notes. I was always the last one chosen for the team and couldn't dribble a ball to save my life. I was way to skinny for any contact sports. I joined the rowing team and did OK.

Now I consider myself reasonably athletic, and have achieved mediocrity in golf and tennis (and many Wii Sports). Some of us are late bloomers.

I wonder if anyone other than us authors read this blog.

Mike Chun said...

Good question. I need to find out how to put a counter on the blog. Anyone know how?