Dodgeball Fridays

It’s 1:05p.m. on a Friday circa 1998.   The Backstreet Boys are battling N*Sync for top hits and the Internet is still dial-up.  Mulan has just hit the theaters and Britney and Justin have yet to even date, let alone break up.  I’m in seventh grade, wear glasses, am completely awkward and absolutely dread gym class.

Friday’s are dodgeball day in gym class.  While many people may find fond memories in this traditional gym class game, I recall pure torture and horror.  I was the girl who collected the balls for the athletic kids to throw at the other team.  Without fail, I somehow always ended up with all the balls and the only person on my team staring an opposing team completely unarmed.  Great….

In dodgeball in Byron, IL, there are three ways to get your teammates back in the game:

1.) Hit an opposing team member.  Any one he got out from my team would be back in.  Problem??  None of the kids on my team could take him so why did they think I would be able to?  There was no sneak attack option available – I was the only kid on my team so all eyes were on me.   He was bigger, faster and better at this game than me.  Probably not going to fare well for me in the end.

2.) Knock down three pins carefully guarded by the opposing team in the back of the gym.  Who was I, a bowling pro??  I think not.  Plus, I’d have to hit all three pins super quickly because as soon as I threw a ball, the other team was armed and I was the only target.  Seemed highly unlikely.

and 3.) Make a basket from the free throw line and your entire team would get to come back in.  Now, I did play on the glorious Yellow Team in 5th grade but my mom kindly suggested that perhaps I was not cut out for basketball after I “ran” down the court with perfect manners (Move, please!  Can you please let me get through?  Please get out of my way.  Thanks!!)  Apparently, politeness has no place on the court.

At this point, I swear the entire gym turns to a slow motion movie. As my team cheers me on thinking my athletic skills will some how have magically chosen this exact moment in time to blossom, I nervously and regretfully move towards the free throw line.  *slow motion* “GGGGGGGOOOOOOO FFFFFFFOOOOOORRRRRR THHHHHHEEEEEE BBBBBBBAAAAASSSSSSKKKKKEEETTTT!”  I’m in enemy territory. *slow motion* YYYOOOOOOUUUUU CAAAAAAAANNNNN DDDDDOOOOOOOOO ITTTTTTTT.  I know how this will end.  *slow motion* SSSSSSSHHHHHHOOOOOTTTTT!

I closed my eyes (because, really I had the same chance of making it if my eyes were open) and shot…  If I missed I would soon be attacked rather violently by the big kid next to the basket.  He would throw the ball and hit me square in the back, knocking me to the floor where I would have the perfect view of disappointment from the kids on the bench.  My team would lose again….

I never made the basket.  Friday after Friday, the story was the same.  My team was disappointed.  My ego (and back for that matter) was bruised…. again.   Thankfully, middle school graduation meant the end of dodgeball.  The new millennium offered new possibilities…. dodgeball free.

Fast forward 10 years – 2008.  I am working as an Internet Sales Coordinator at a car dealer in Rockford.  I’ve matured and lost some of the awkwardness every 7th grader has.  I haven’t played dodgeball (thankfully) in years.  Unfortunately, I’m working in a job completely out of my field that I know nothing about but took because I needed a paycheck.  I have very few friends in the area and I had just recently been broken up with by my boyfriend of 6.5 years.  Needless to say, life wasn’t great.  One day, my mom shows up at my office with a gift.  I open the package and what’s inside?  A desk dodgeball set.

Dodgeball Desk Set... complete with it's own crybaby, bully and scardy-cat kids!

I thought about all the missed baskets, the disappointment in my teammates eyes, the feeling of dread when I realized I was the only girl left on the court.  And then?  I laughed.

My mom got me the dodgeball set to remind me of a time when life was tough.  Yes, it was only gym class dodgeball but at the time, it was life or death.  And some how?  Some how I got through it.  With a few bruises? Yes.  But, I made it to the other side and I was able to look back and laugh.

Sometimes life throws dodgeballs at us.  We have two options.  We can either break down into tears and run off the court or we can pick up the ball, take the bruise and give it our best shot.  We might not always make the basket.  We might not always get the entire team back on the court.  We might feel alone.  The point is that we tried.  We learned something.  We got a little better each time.

I still have the desk dodgeball set but happily am in a job I love, have great friends and have even been on a few dates.  I keep it here to remind me that I can get through anything.  When a day gets tough and I take a bruise or two, I look at those wooden gym class bullies on my desk and know that I’ve gotten past them once, I can do it again.  Plus, they are ALWAYS unarmed and can’t throw back…. so I ALWAYS win, no matter what!

So, IGNITE members, the next time you’re downtown and having a bad day, stop by my office.  I’ll give you the dodgeball, close the office door and let you get it all out.  After conquering them?  You can conquer anything.

-Caitlin

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~ by caitlinludwig on June 8, 2010.

2 Responses to “Dodgeball Fridays”

  1. Made me laugh and laugh again. GoooooooFOooooooorittttttt, Still should have made this into an OC. Would have taken State. Love you. MOM

  2. I LOVE this post 🙂 I needed a little pick me up on this gloomy Monday morning, and although I am jealous of your amazingly cool desktop game – the moral of the story was one that I needed to hear. Thanks for always being there, Caitlin!

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