My Embarrassing New Year Resolution (Or, Here’s Why You Don’t Want Me on Your Softball Team) January 3, 2014

At first glance, one of my New Year Resolutions may seem a little odd. After all, I basically want to learn how to do something that most people learn when they are about five years old.


I want to learn how to throw.


Yes, you heard that right. I don’t know how to throw a ball properly.


You know those snotty kids who say things like, “You throw like a girl”? Yeah, I’m that girl.


You may be asking yourself, “How did this happen? Didn’t you have gym class? Didn’t anyone teach you how to throw?”


Well, call it a case of slipping through the cracks. If kids can graduate high school without knowing how to read, then I suppose this gal can be forty all grown up and not know how to throw.


Believe it or not, I actually played baseball from ages 6 through 8, and I could hit the ball well enough that I got on base 90% of the time. Heck, I even made the local paper’s illustrious rec league updates. Unfortunately for me, there was no such thing as “designated hitter” in Pee Wee League since my fielding was another story.


My ineptitude landed me in right field most of the time; if it was a special day maybe I’d be in left field. My catching was questionable at best, but then the real trouble came after I procured the ball. I was too young and naive to actually be worried about the ball coming my way (that would come later in junior high) so if it ever did, my throw would land maybe 10 yards in front of me, if I was lucky. If I tried to throw it harder, my aim would suffer. I’ll never forget the one time when I needed to throw the ball home. My throw instead ended up slamming against the other team’s bullpen fence, where all the kids cheered even louder as their base runner safely made it home.


At no time did my coach take me aside and show me how to properly throw. We weren’t coddled back then, folks. There were no participation ribbons, and we liked it that way! But getting back to my distressing story…


My poor throwing skills followed me throughout my gym class career, where I dreaded the days we’d head outside for softball. By junior high not only could I still not throw, but apparently I could not bat any more, either. (Or do cartwheels. This would later be followed by no more Tilt-a-Whirl rides.) When it came time to head to the outfield, I sprinted toward right field and hid behind anyone close by. If the ball did come my way (my worst nightmare), a boy in my class would sprint up to me, yell at me to give him the ball, and then launch it about five times farther than I was capable.


It was all for the best, I suppose. Just a tad humiliating though.


Come to think of it, most of my high school physical education career was pretty humiliating, probably because very little actual teaching happened. By that time the teacher just expected us to know how to play basketball or do things like say, throw a ball. I did have a few shining moments of glory: The time I hit a bulls-eye in the archery unit while everyone was watching; the four points I scored in a basketball game (hey, don’t laugh – this was a big deal for me); the semi-final finish in the HORSE contest; the dancing unit (of course I rocked that one), and badminton. Eat your hearts out, jocks.


It’s a bit pathetic that I still remember these things, however when you are picked last or almost last for all the team sports, you need all the sports highlight reels you can get.


So why am I so worried about this now? Why do I care about learning how to throw? It’s not like I’m going to be asked to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game anytime soon. And I’m certainly not involving myself in any company softball teams. For God’s sake, I have nightmares about that stuff, people. Plus I’ve found sports that I really enjoy, like tennis and golf and Crossfit-like workouts. (I can even flip over huge tires – so take that!)


Sadly though, my throwing DOES affect my tennis game. You know that nice snapping motion you’re supposed to have when you throw a ball? Well that’s the same motion that is needed for a nice strong serve. I don’t have it. At all. I have an awkward sidearm serve that confuses my opponents. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve asked me if I have a shoulder injury.


“No,” I tell them, “My serve just sucks.”


Luckily my weird motion and good placement throws them off a little, but if I want to take my game to the next level I need to step it up and learn how to serve – and throw – properly.


So in the words of Maria Van Trapp, my tennis coach informed me that we’ll have to “start at the very beginning.”


As a result, I may be the first person ever in history to have a tennis lesson with a football.

So I’ve got that going for me.