Saturday Night Lights

6 years ago

Last year, I got a wild hair and joined a women's football team.  Full-contact, of course.  It was one of the craziest things I've ever done, and one of the best. 

I reconnected with a high school friend on Facebook who was a veteran member of the team, and I thought it would be a great idea to join.  Forget distance (the team is in a city an hour away), gas prices, time spent.......this sounded like something I needed to do.  I had never played a team sport and wanted to see what it was like.

I have a lot of interests, and because I flit from one activity to another like a hyper hummingbird, it's hard to become really good at anything.  My stick-to-it-iveness is about a 2 on a scale of one to ten.  But I thought about this for seven seconds and decided to give it a go.  I tried out and made the team (everyone made the team).  So I hastily bought a bunch of football gear.  Did you know they make shoulder pads designed for women?  They do!

Let me back up for a moment and say that I knew very little about football and although I'm not as skinny as I was in high school, my stature is pretty insubstantial.  {Insert picture of Olive Oyl here}  Meanwhile, some of these ladies could play on an NFL team and scare the opponents.

Anyway, so I was on the team and practice was held three times a week. Since I lived so far away, I would go to practice on Saturday mornings and one evening during the week.  Saturdays are my favorite day of the week, and I committed to giving them up for six months.  Hm.  That's gonna hurt.  And since we were on a different schedule from high school, college, and professional football, we started practicing outside in December and January.  I'm not terrified of pain, but when you're a frozen popsicle and you get slammed by a truck large muscular woman, it smarts.  Oh, and the season lasts until June, and by that time, you are baking on the Astroturf and your brain turns to jelly. 

Turns out, I was a benchwarmer, and a bit of a disappointment to my coach, which was my only regret.  On the upside, I did stick with it through the whole season.  I missed a few practices and had to miss one game, but I didn't drop out.  And the team experience was so worth it.  I keep in touch online with several of my teammates, and they are still so loving and supportive that I can hardly believe it. 

Being a long-distance member had many disadvantages, one being that I didn't get to socialize with the group as much as I would have liked.  One advantage was that I wasn't ever in on the occasional "issues" that would spring up between players.

I couldn't play this year because I had surgery a few months ago (non-football related) and couldn't/shouldn't be in a full contact sport right away.  Plus, the gas bill would have killed me if internal injuries didn't.  I thought that teammates would think ill of me, but they have been supportive and were very welcoming when I watched them play a game a week ago.  I miss them and the game a lot.  There are several real mentors on the team, and I hope to benefit from their knowledge and willpower going forward.  It was a great chance to get to know people from all walks of life and help squash any stereotypes or prejudices a person may have.  I don't have any prejudices really, but it strengthened my resolve not to judge people unfairly.  And it made me feel better about myself - I'm kind of a dork sometimes and they liked me anyway.  These are girls I consider "too cool for me" and WAY more world-wise than I am.  I don't know if I will play again in the future, but the coaches, the players, and the experience will always be a very special part of my life.

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