I suck at sports.
I’m second to last on the JV tennis ladder, my friends lap me every day at swim practice and my 7-year-old brother has had more goals in his two year soccer career than I had in my 10.
But despite my blatant lack of athletic ability, I’ve played sports my whole life. From soccer and dance, to swimming and tennis, to basketball and even softball. I’ve tried them all. I was never the best, I was rarely in shape and dreaded every early morning game (or any game at all if we’re being honest), but I’ve somehow stuck with it. Looking back, I’m glad I did.
The sports I’ve stuck with through high school are swimming and tennis, the two non-cut sports, of course.
I love tennis. I get to play doubles with one of my best friends, and although we don’t always win, we definitely have the most fun on the court. We celebrate obnoxiously after every point and can never seem to keep a straight face while we play.
This year, I went 5-0; and yes, I only made it to five of the ten matches the entire season. People are always impressed by my undefeated season, but what they don’t know is that because I’m so low on the ladder, the girls I play are usually very inexperienced and I win because they can’t get the ball over the net. But hey, I’ll take all the credit I can get.
Like tennis, I don’t take swimming too seriously either. Swimming’s the kind of sport I love to hate. I dread practice and meets and just the pool in general, but I would never even consider quitting. The reason I keep swimming are the girls I get to endure 5:30 a.m. practices with. I swim for the experience. I swim for the buddy gifts filled with granola bars, Gatorade and unhealthy amounts of candy. I swim for the cute, Columbia blue spirit wear. I swim for post-meet dinners with frizzy, wet hair and makeup smeared under my eyes.
That’s why I play tennis too. It’s not that I’m passionate about the sport — I love just being on the team and being with my teammates. Making friends with girls I wouldn’t otherwise know is something I’m so grateful for, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so if I didn’t swim or play tennis.
Just because I have accepted the fact that I’m incredibly unathletic, doesn’t mean I’m not still insecure about it. I like to make fun of myself and joke about it, but it’s always embarrassing at swim meets when all of my friends are in the fast heats and I’m always in the earlier, slower heats. It’s even more embarrassing when I’m late to practice and my coach makes me swim in the fast lane with all of my friends, who awkwardly lap me the entire time.
I’ve learned to not let my lack of athletic talent define me. So what if I’m not the best? It doesn’t mean I can’t be the hardest worker or the most dedicated, although I don’t think either of those titles belong to me. My friends don’t care that I’m slower in the water or that I don’t always make all of my serves over the net. They just care that I’m there to have fun and enjoy the sport with them. And to me, that’s what matters. It’s not about state cuts and first place trophies — it’s about the unexpected friendships and lasting memories. And trying to set the record for most meets and matches skipped in a season.