Glass Half Full: It’s been quite a run on the softball field
June 9, 2016
I'm hanging up my cleats. Perhaps an unexpected statement from a 68-year-old woman, and one you might immediately have translated as metaphorical. In this particular case, it's literal. The decision was difficult to make and difficult to share, because it represents an end to Many Things Wonderful.
When I was a child, one very real goal was to be the first female professional baseball player, as some of you know. While I gave up that dream many years ago, there remained infinite fields open to me.
Some of the greatest and most memorable joys in my life have sprung from moments of athletic play: softball, soccer, volleyball, squash, tennis, track, gymkhana. I have loved the mastery of skills, the work outs, the competition, the sense of camaraderie. One learns incomparable skills as a member of a team.
Throughout my life I have recognized how fortunate I have been to have had athletic and involved parents who supported my dreams; to be blessed with athleticism and a competitive spirit myself; to have been raised in environments where girls were encouraged to be their best sports selves at a time when the only choice for many girls was cheerleading.
I have heard it said that (wo)men don't stop playing because they grow old; they grow old because they stop playing. Nobody wants to grow old, yet doing so is rather preferable to the alternative, and I am keenly aware of how soon the lives of many are cut short.
That's part of the reason I am hanging up my cleats. I can still catch and throw and hit. It takes me wa-a-a-ay too long to reach first base. If I have not already become a liability to my coed softball team, that status is just around the bend. I don't want my teammates to resent my presence.
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I also don't want to pull some muscle or break an appendage because I have lost essential flexibility and strength. I prefer to bow out gracefully. I can still be a great fan.
The decision to hang up my cleats is the right one, the wise one. Legions of aging athletes have made or are making that same choice. Having made it, I actually have felt a sense of relief. Quite likely, when I am sitting on the bleachers, cheering on the Lake Tahoe School Bobcats, there will also be moments of yearning and regret. Better those feelings than irrevocable injury. Or simply embarrassing myself.
My cleats, by the way, are a rather marvelous fluorescent orange and yellow. Maybe I won't literally hang them up after all. They're kind of cool and fashionable and something students might appreciate. Repurpose — that's what I'll do. I feel better already.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.
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