I am not a natural athlete.
In school, I tried out for the volleyball team and was promptly laughed off the court, plastic glasses and all.
In 8th grade, I tried out for cheerleading, but lacked the ability to do a cartwheel or be overly peppy. I was laughed out of the room, plastic glasses, acne, and all.
In high school, I was on color guard for two years. That involved sprinting like a football running back whilst holding a large metal pole with a piece of fabric on it. It was athletic, but not competitive.
In those days, I hated gym class and could not see the appeal of spending many afternoons sweating profusely with other people and throwing a ball around. I’m fairly certain I couldn’t climb up a ratty rope. I did not get a letter jacket.
Fast-forward a couple decades.
As I did hand release push-ups on the concrete floor of my derby league’s practice space this week, I left sweat prints akin to Rorschach test on the floor. It had dripped off my forehead and into my eyes, blurring my vision and moving my contacts off center.
Believe me, it’s as unpleasant as it sounds. My hands, clad in wrist guards, couldn’t quite stay on the floor as I finished each round–it was slick from sweat. Mind you, not just my own.
This happenstance is normal for me. At least five times a week, I am on-skates or running or taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I leave covered in bodily secretions and I generally crave Mexican food.
Why do I do this, I wondered as I wiped the sweat off my face.
Because I am an athlete now. I feel better when I am in motion. I feel as though I have purpose beyond the mundane. I am a part of a team. Even when I’m sprinting up a hill in an effort to get it over with, I’m on my own team. Pushing through the pain and sweat toward something bigger than myself.
It is never too late to do the impossible. Plus, I won’t look too shabby when my 20-year class reunion rolls around.