Two memories.

It seems like a good time for sports-related memories. Here are two of mine.

Softball practice, circa 1992.

I’m not sure why I was catching at that practice. Rosemary was our catcher that season, but she must have been out or unavailable or something. I think that season I was playing right field (more on that in a minute), but I must have been filling in for some reason or other. It was a batting practice, and Coach Swaney was pitching, while the Assistant Coach was behind me calling the pitches. Whoever was batting (maybe it was Rosemary; maybe that’s why I was catching) knocked the ball almost to the fence (and we played on a baseball field, so our field was deeper than a lot of our competitors’ fields). I moved up and got ready to catch it if I needed to, but for some reason, the Assistant Coach didn’t think I was paying attention. She kept yelling, “Kari, pay attention, Kari pay attention!” I didn’t want to turn around and tell her I was paying attention, so I didn’t say anything. And she kept yelling. The batter rounded second, and then third, and somehow Coach Swaney had the ball and threw it to me, hard. And I caught it, and I tagged her out. She looked surprised, and I looked at Coach Swaney, who looked shocked. And the Assistant Coach looked at me and said, “I guess you were paying attention.”

I’m no athlete, but I can catch. And I have class: I resisted giving her a dirty look. But I felt really good (and still feel good about it) because I greatly exceeded everyone’s expectations.

PE class, circa 1992.

We always played softball in the fall, boys against girls, and Coach Swaney made the girls play our regular positions for the team. So I was in right field. The boys had one left handed batter – Matthew. He was known for being pretty deadly about hitting it deep in right field. As we got later and later into the season, I got better and better about knowing where he’d hit it. And I remember catching his hits. A lot. One morning in particular, he kept hitting it to the same spot, and I kept catching it. I must have caught it three or four times before PE was over.

I can’t throw worth crap, but it didn’t matter, because I kept getting him out. Later that same morning, he was talking a lot of smack about me, and how crappy I throw. That’s the only time I have ever been the recipient of sports trash-talking. And I knew it didn’t matter, because I kept getting him out. I did what no one else was doing – I stood in right field and caught the ball over and over and over. And I was proud of myself.

(When I really followed the Braves, David Justice was my favorite player. Because he played right field, too. hee hee.)

I was only on the softball team because they didn’t cut anyone. And I don’t have the coordination or the power to play sports. But I worked hard. I am sure plenty of my friends have memories that are more glorious than mine – hitting free throws in a clinch situation, catching a game-winning pass, getting an important out. But these are the two things I remember about playing softball – I worked hard, and I did what no one thought I could do.

Unfortunately, in actual game situations, I can’t remember the ball ever being hit to right field. But I did bat well, and I backed up the first basewoman like I was supposed to. My fond catching memories, however, come from practice.

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