I love to ask people what their favorite childhood memory is. Seriously, try it sometime you won’t regret it. Their answers range from funny, to sweet, to sobering (and then there’s the ass who “doesn’t have one”; mhm yeah okay, because every day of your life as a 5 year old was complete purgatory). Mine were Sunday afternoons spent with my Dad (which is surprising since the man is equal parts crazy and sweet; he once accused my sister and I of clogging up the toilet because we were eating wood. Needless to say we were not, but that’s besides the point). He’s a huge Steelers fan so whenever a game was on we would each take a recliner and spend the day in front of the TV with snacks and a few naps heres and there. I didn’t completely understand football at that age but I enjoyed the company and atmosphere.
Football has always been prominent in my family. My father played college ball and continued to coach the local varsity high school team. My mother, sister and I would often watch the games when we were little just to see Dad coaching. We were (and still are) a sports family.
I don’t think there was ever any question of whether or not Devin and I would be thrown into a sport, there was just the question of which one. Looking back it’s pretty obvious that my parents disagreed on how to go about it. My dad seemed determined to find something that we liked and were decent at so he could make a spreadsheet of projected costs for the next 18 years. My mom was determined to find something we could do together.
First attempt: Gymnastics. Really, really fun until you hit the age where they expect more than a somersault and ribbon twirl in a routine. Also there was a time limit on how long you could bounce on the trampoline and I was not about that.
Second attempt: Dance. Dance requires coordination (don’t have) and facial expression (Devin didn’t have. She went through a toddler angst phase of refusing to smile in photos for 6 years. Charming right?).
Third attempt: Basketball. This lasted all of one winter. Devin was shy and wouldn’t pass the ball while I was aggressive as Hell and ran around knocking smaller children over. Both actions are NOT conducive with making friends.
Fourth attempt: Tennis. Again, short lived. My mother attempted to teach us this graceful sport over the summer. Devin and I would fight for the best racket (a hideous brown one) and whoever ended up without it would sulk and hit every ball out of the court.
Fifth attempt: Softball. Softball was actually not an utter failure. Devin and I both played from first grade all the way till our senior year. Now, that being said we still resented some aspects. For instance, in the winter when coaches were picking players we came as a package deal (a rule forced upon the Bethlehem Tomboy League by a Mrs. Doris Jensen A.K.A. mother). This was always pretty embarrassing because we played different positions so one of us would end up playing second string to another girl while the other was first choice the entire season.
Near our older years in the game, someone had the brilliant idea to create the ultimate twin machine. I became a catcher while Devin was molded into a pitcher. At times it was fun, but soon that became the expectation for every team we went to. No one wants to play one position for an entire season, it’s cumbersome and boring. So softball eventually fizzled out as well and just became a hobby sport.
Sixth attempt: Cross country/track. Devin and I actually did not start this together by some small miracle. She was on the volleyball team at our high school for awhile before switching shoes and joining the weird kids who ran around in circles. Running really hit home with me, this was a sport I could do. It required no coordination, no equipment, and you could literally practice anywhere. I was a bit upset when Devin joined initially but she found pleasure in it as well; it was more gratifying to see that she was happy.
Moving onto present day, we both carried our athletics over to the collegiate level. I continue to run cross country as well as track at Iona College while Dev has moved over into rowing at Binghamton. She joined the team her freshman year and so far has found great success in it.
Last year, a few teammates and I were offered the chance to row with the Crew team at their conference regatta (they were short a few girls). I took the chance because it sounded fun and I wanted to see what Dev was experiencing. We only had a week of practice but during that week I discovered I was better off doing anything but rowing. It led to a great story but how Dev finds enjoyment in blistered hands and icy water I’ll never know. Then again the same could be said for what I love to do.
We’ve both settled into the comfort of our separate sports quite easily; it’s much more exciting and satisfying to be able to actually support one another without competing against each other. When we were younger everything was a competition which led to unnecessary tension; now that we’ve found our own niches we can encourage one another whole heartedly.
Not that I’d ever encourage anyone else to take up rowing. That would mean more competition for her and I just know I’d somehow be blamed for it.
Until next week,