Greetings dear museum visitors! For those of you expecting a visit to The Great Locker Room of Outside Games Memories… I am sorry, but there just is not that much sports participation in wee Kat’s life. In fact, there almost is not enough even share. But… if you follow along closely, you will find some bits and pieces of games-related things, and finally, a bit of a surprise (a surprise for Kat, most certainly!)
Let’s start at the very beginning…
Here we have a 4-year old Kat standing next to the snowman her mother had made. I don’t remember this day very well, but I do remember that I did not make the snowman. No games to be found here… but I did like to play in the snow!
Let’s head to the school games exhibit, shall we?
I’ve never liked the word team. I’ve always equated it with being picked last and getting nailed in the groin with a dodgeball. — Jordan Castillo Price
This quote aptly sums up my experience with outdoor games (i.e. dodgeball) as an adolescent… (although you could sub in head for groin in my case!) Yes, I was the kid who was always… and I mean always… picked last for any school sports event. I don’t recall there being t-ball when I was in grade school. I remember some baseball games on the playground, but again… I was picked last and spent my time sitting in the outfield.
I was the most singularly uncoordinated child on the planet. Eye hand coordination with a moving object… slim to none. (Think baseball or tennis… oof, so bad at it. Think basketball… that whole dribbling and running at the same time thing… yeah. Could.Not.Do.It.)
I was forced to take swimming lessons the summer I had my tonsils out… I still have nightmares about that experience. And while I can swim… it is on the “barely” scale. I don’t fear the water but I do have a healthy respect for it.
Although – this was not an outdoor activity – I did love calisthenics with Miss Kriger in Middle School… especially, leg lifts with your hands under your bum to Seals and Crofts Summer Breeze. And every time I hear that song, I think of that very thing…think of it, yes but I most certainly am not doing them! LOL Come to think about it, the best part of calisthenics was the music… oh and Miss Kriger, of course!
So, you might be wondering when I might be getting to the actual outdoor games content of this post…. wait no further, here it is!
High school brought new opportunities for me (plus, I was spending a lot more time at my grandparents house, a much calmer environment… and one I could invite friends to visit!) A friend, Mary Jane Wehrmeyer, was an amazing golfer – a shining star as a freshman on the golf team. She talked about golf non-stop and by my sophomore year she had convinced me that being on the golf team with her was exactly what my life needed.
But, I had never played, did not have clubs, and had that eye hand coordination thing working against me. However, the coach, Mr. Maatman assured me he could help me learn golf, he would figure out clubs for me, and he ignored the whole eye hand conversation and so I eased my way into the golf team. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my eye hand coordination was much better with a stationary golf ball. I could hit it! At least some of the time! The lack of golf clubs was not an issue because for practice and when we played at “home” (The West Ottawa Golf Course now called Three Fires Golf Club… what the heck? lol) I could use a set of clubs from the course. If we were “away” Mr. Maatman brought clubs for me to use. And suddenly, I discovered that being on a team could be a very personal sport. (And no one was throwing dodgeballs at me! Hahaha)
I began to look forward to practice every day after school. Walking the course, learning how to play, being outdoors with friends… but quiet. It was really a lovely escape. At the spring school sports banquet the following year, I even got a participation award. Looking back at this, the key to my golf enjoyment lay entirely with the coach who believed that showing up and trying every single time was worth noting. I did so love Mr. Maatman….please take the time to read his obituary… I will wait for you all before continuing on.
Lovely, wasn’t he? He really was an amazing human.
But back to the exhibit… Golf was something that stayed with me beyond high school… although I did not play regularly like like I did in high school. I did work as a server for several summers at Clearbrook Golf Club in Saugatuck where one of the perks was being able to play the occasional round of golf!.
Sadly, golf and I parted ways permanently the year I tore my rotator cuff… but the lessons of golf are still with me. Relax..shoulders down, take a deep breath, and always…always… replace your divots! Good life lessons for anyone!
Thank you all for visiting today and I would especially like to thank Kym for inspiring all of us museum curators… I hope you enjoyed this little journey to Kat’s Very Brief (and incredibly unspectacular) Life with Outdoor Games!
Have a great weekend everyone!