Three Feet and a Wing Dinger
I stepped on her foot so hard, I think I felt bones crush. You see, that’s the problem when you play this very polite game called Netball. Sudden stops and starts and bumping often lead to quick possibly painful interactions. As I watched her eyes well up with tears, I realized I might have just crushed her soul and hopes of a professional netball career. Quickly, I apologized and backed off, but in my moment of weakness, the little turd snuck around me, caught the next ball, and her team was able to score. She was faking! GGGRRR Okay little cow, GAME ON. For the next 45 minutes I proceeded to run, jump, stop, sprint, pant, and jiggle my way around my little section of the court.
For my American friends, I encourage you to Google this incredible sport, netball. It promises to be a ladylike and polite sport for young ladies, we even wear a little dress. However, it is actually a fast paced game of flying balls, hip checks, twisted ankles, bloody knees, and even the occasional elbow to the melon (or melons).
After hoping and praying I was going to sit the bench for a month plus, I was initiated by fire three minutes into the game. Wait, what!? What was happening? As my beautiful teammate limped off the court and was sticking my new position letters on she was giving me the rules and how to play in less than ten seconds. I didn’t even know what GD even stood for, let alone the rules.
Turns out I was about to defend the goal against a girl twice my height and half my age. Oh poo. I kept looking at my chest letters hoping I could work out the meaning so I could at least figure out my proper court areas. I was doing a great job distracting everyone on court as they all coached me to my spot. It fact it was actually my opponent who said, “me, follow me, just try to keep the ball from me!”. “Oh, Thank you so much!” Meanwhile my team scored while I distracted most of the opposition.
By second quarter I was reassigned to my usual spot. The only position I know. I was tasked with defense, wing defense or wing dinger, for half the game. I tried to make sure their attack girl was distracted and unable to do her job. Get in her head. Oh, I know how to be annoying!!
Being the new girl, and the advantage of a funny accent I decided to start talking to my tiny adversary. However, my strategy of fully annoying the opposition backfired. When I started chatting up the quick little attacker, she replied! What a friendly conversation we had. “Where are you from”, “The USA”, “Oh My Best Friend is in Fresno”, “OH CALI!”, “She loves it”. ….. And so on. My strategy was crumbling as we were becoming best buddies.
“Obstruction!” I was her little talking shadow. Up and down the court, I was on her like flies on poo. My only problem was this silly three foot rule. “Obstruction!” What? What was going on? I shadowed yet again. “Obstruction!” Having no clue what I was doing wrong I began to do this crazy jumping jack Sasquatch impersonation around my attacker to avoid…. “Obstruction!” My poor teammates kept saying I was too close…”Obstruction!” I was getting called the moment my opponent caught the ball, I had no time to….”Obstruction!”. Grrrr. Finally, a teammate who was half annoyed and half laughing at my predicament taught me that my hands where going up to fast….”Obstruction!” Opps….. I did it again!
What is a 41 year old doing on a court full of young athletes? Sucking wind, turning as red as a tomato, and sweating like a pig; that’s what! I’m having the time of my life! What a great experience to play a sport in another country. Learn something new and meet amazing people. However, I may have overestimated my physical fitness, and most of all, lack of height! Training has given me two pulled hamstrings and an ankle sprain. I may have ‘tossed my cookies’ at a special fitness practice that left us all face planted in the grass for a least 10 minutes after. This past game immobilized me just short of a walker as I shuffled around the house like a elderly penguin for hours. Thank you to whoever invented Tiger Balm.
Where I was lacking in ability to play, I made up for in enthusiasm. They had no idea what my skills in cheering could really be. “Cool your s*** Jennie” has become my teams favorite and most used saying. Well, after ‘Obstruction Jennie’. Giggle.
They don’t know yet just how loud I can get! I am ready to support my team. Cheer for them. Carpool with them. Care for and love on them. Most of all begin to form a team with them. Those who are a part of a team sport know the importance and privilege it is to be on a team. The feeling of acceptance. The desire to do your best as well as do your best for your team. I look forward to bonding and working with my team as the season progresses. The infamous ‘netball trip’ and other adventures are ahead of me and I look forward to each moment with such an amazing group of women. I am sure I still have a few “Obstructions!”, drill learning (I still can’t figure out the four corner butterfly thing), rule learning, and missed baskets to go. These beautiful women have no idea how this experience is already changing my life. How they are changing my life for the better. How honored I am to play with them. I am blessed.
Three Feet and a Wing Dinger