What is an athlete? Part 1

Well, according to NASA, an ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) is a six-legged robotic lunar rover under development by NASA. (Google.)

But oddly enough, that isn’t exactly what I was talking about 😉

Definition for an Athlete from Freedictionary.com:  

1. a person trained to compete in sports or exercises involving physical strength, speed, or endurance

2. a person who has a natural aptitude for physical activities

How would you define an athlete?

Since I was a kid, I have always defined myself as an athlete. My grandpa(the only other athletically inclined person in my family, besides my grandma) started teaching me how to kick a soccer ball and throw a baseball when I was just 3 years old. At the same time, my mom and dad put me in ballet classes. Let’s just say there’s a reason I only lasted one recital…..

I played on various soccer, basketball and volleyball teams in elementary school, and was always the tom boy playing sports with the boys. I remember in 4th grade, the boys wouldn’t let me play football with them. I would ask every.single.day  and they always said no. Then one day, I was roaming the field ever so innocently(which happened to be right next to where they were playing their game at lunch) and I jumped in at the last second, intercepted a ball and ran a touchdown. I was allowed to play with them from that day forward.

I started playing flag football that same year. Again, an all boy team. The first practice was a little awkward. Not for me, because I was used to being the only girl, but the coaches and other teammates always gave the “ummm..what is she doing here?” look to me. I didn’t care, I just wanted to play. My dad was always my biggest supporter too, and came to almost every single practice and game that I had. The first practice with new teams was always the day where I had to prove myself. I had to ignore the awkward looks, and show them that I was just as good, if not better than they were. I ended up becoming the quarterback for the next 3 teams I was on and my 6th grade team took the state championship in flag football….with a girl as the quarterback J I was like the son my dad never had (even though he has two ;-)) I continued to play flag football until 8th grade. That was when all of the guys started playing tackle football, and I learned what makeup and flat irons were.

5th grade was also the year I picked up baseball. The first time I went to a baseball game when I was 9, was the very first Diamondbacks game. My dad got front row season tickets(that he still has 12 years later….) and I didn’t know a thing about the sport. I knew how to play catch, and that was it. This sparked my interest, and I went to as many games as I could with my dad. I asked him every game what something was, and eventually, I knew the game pretty damn well. After playing catch and hitting with my neighbor almost every day, I finally got the courage to try out for little league. Again, I would be the only girl on the team. I started out as a second basemen, and wasn’t very good. I was okay, but nothing crazy. The thing was, I LOVED the sport. I would BEG my dad to take me to more and more baseball games. I made him take me 2 hours early to every game we went to (talk about father of the year award!) so that I could watch them do batting practice.  Baseball was my first love. I started getting more serious about baseball, and since my favorite baseball player was Travis Lee(I swear, not just because I thought he was cute ;-)) I started learning how to play first base.

Fast forward to 8th grade and freshman year of high school. By that time, I had gotten the nickname “vacuum” at first base. It was rare that any ball could get past me. I could pick, jump, and stretch like the best of them. My hitting was okay, I got a lot of singles, but I didn’t have much power in my swing, so doubles and triples didn’t come often.(I was 5’1 and 98 pounds haha) My OBP(On Base Percentage) was very high though, so I usually sat about 5th in the lineup.

From then on, I was the starting first basemen on many club teams and again one of my teams made it to the regional championships. I can honestly say that those were some of the best times of my life. Playing on a club team is fun because for a few years, you play with the same group of people, so you all know each others strengths and weaknesses. My coach was a 2nd dad to me, and his son was a brother to me. Those were the days.

Freshman year of high school, after our fall season had ended,  High school baseball tryouts began. The fearless gut inside of me told me that I was going to try out. Up to this point, I was used to seeing 80 mph fast balls, and had no trouble with them. However, the guys were all hitting puberty and getting strong. Some of the guys were throwing 85 mph fast balls and 70 mph curve balls. I was facing guys that were a foot taller than me, a hell of a lot stronger than me, and most were older than me.

About 40 guys(+ me) were trying out that year for the team. Freshman could either make the freshman or varsity team. I will never forget that week of tryouts. I have never in my life pushed myself so hard then I did for that week. When the coach said to do 30 tricep pushups, you better believe that even though my wimpy arms could barely do 10, I pumped out those 30. I dug so deep inside of myself to make sure to keep up with all the guys. I already had the disadvantage of being a girl, and I was the first one to ever try out for the team. Our baseball team has won many state championships, so it wasn’t an easy roster to make. The last thing I wanted was to fall behind the other guys. If I didn’t make the team it would be for lack of skill, not lack of endurance and strength.

First cuts came, and they cut about 15 people. I was still going strong. It got me totally pumped, and I couldn’t wait for the next day of tryouts. It was the last day that we would practice, and then they would make final cuts………

To be continued…….


2 thoughts on “What is an athlete? Part 1

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