spiderman and other freaks…

i remember when i was trying-out for the soccer team at william mitchell high school in colorado springs, colorado…it was back when i was a sophomore and a transfer student to the district…at this time in my life, i was so small (and skinny)…not the hulking, hunk of chiseled beef you see walking the streets of minneapolis nowadays;)

back then, i was so skinny that they used to call me spiderman…i mean, it was crazy how freakishly small i was–if i turned sideways, i would disappear (my super-power)!  note to world: self/body image issues are not unique to girls/women…and let me tell you–no guy, at any point in their k-12 school career, wants to be “that small”…

anyways, back to the fall tryouts…it so happened that i made the jv soccer team…and once that was established, the coach went about training and evaluating us further…to see who would be in the “starting line-up”…

i remember one day during our training, another sophomore (a guy who kinda looked like an older version of the evil kid from the omen-the original 1976 classic…which still holds up as one of creepiest halloween movies of all-time!) who had also made the jv squad…made a comment directed at me–he said, ‘this guy doesn’t realize he’s too small for the team’…walking right behind him came a senior/varsity player (a person who looked to be a fully grown man–as evident by the 5 o’clock shadow he was sportin’ at 3pm) who said, “he can play” (matter-of-factly) and continued on his way…funny thing was, that same senior was one of my club team coaches from the summer before (i seriously thought he was an adult when he was my coach:)

well, training went on for a few more days before our first game and i worked hard (encouraged by the words of the senior/varsity player/former coach)…and the other sophomore made a few more jabs…then, game day finally came…

on game day, the jv coach had us all huddled up as he went over the starting line-up & the game plan…and he called my name, i was starting at right center midfield!  one name he didn’t call was that of the guy who had been taunting me…anyways, i started that game and every remaining game that year–while my nemesis rode the pine…when i walked out onto the field, i looked back at him and smiled–my face, my posture, and every nonverbal part of my being…if translated…said one thing: what’s up now, bitch?!

the words “he can play” were big for me…heartened me, gave me strength…in that moment, my former coach was lookin’ out for me and i appreciated it then (and now)…and that lookin’ out is something i’ve tried to adopt in my own work with kids…especially, with kids on the margins…you know, the ones the rest of the world calls freaks

happy halloween!!!

sincerely–your friendly neighborhood spiderman

One response

  1. Love this both as 1) a parent of kids who I want to hear those words from their teachers, and 2) as a person capable of speaking those words for my own and other kids. “He can play.” “She can play.” Beautiful.


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