I've played soccer almost as long as I can remember. My parents started me out like most little kids do in a few different activities to see which I liked best. Dance (ballet, tap, and clogging) was a dismal failure. To this day, the kindest thing my mom can say about my dance days was that I looked really cute in the costume. I think all I need to say about gymnastics was that my "cartwheel" involved me putting my hands on the floor and rotating around in a circle. T-ball was okay, but not really my thing. I was scared of that hard little ball, a fear that has never really gone away. In middle school we had 3 days in gym class where we didn't have to participate if we didn't want to, and I always took those days during the softball part of class. But when I started playing soccer, I found my thing. I started playing soccer when I was 5 and I kept with it all through the end of high school. I can't really say that my soccer-playing prowess was evident from the start. Like all little kids, I just moved as part of the pack up and down the field following the ball. But around 8 or 9, it started becoming more obvious that I had some talent. Those muscular thighs that I usually hated were awesome at kicking balls long distances. I once scored from mid-field while playing defense (even cooler since it was on my birthday). And the weird thing was that although I was a pretty timid kid in general, I was anything but on the soccer field. I'm not really sure why, but I was usually one of the more aggressive kids on the field. When I was having an "on" game, I felt like nothing could stop me.
It would take several more haircuts before I finally realized that hair that short does not work on a round face or curly hair. Maybe cute on a 7-year-old, not so cute on a 16-year-old (even minus the bangs).
This picture is known in my family as the "bulldog picture." I was growing my bangs out and consequently bore a strong resemblance to a bulldog (at least to my siblings and me). Of course, this is the picture that every known relative would also display for years.
In this way, I guess I don't really have the typical chubby kid's story about hating gym class and sports in general. Soccer made me feel confident as an athlete, especially later on when I started to play on traveling teams and school teams that you had to try out for. I even took extra elective gym classes in school to try new sports like tennis and volleyball. But if you've read my blog at all, you know that I can be ruthlessly harsh on myself. I drove myself hard to try to be the best soccer player I could be. I think part of it (besides the natural tendency I have) was because I was bigger than many of the girls on my team. I felt like I had more to prove. I had to prove that my weight didn't affect what kind of player I was.
I guess the role of genetics in weight is somewhat evident in my childhood. I think people tend to blame genetics for too much of their weight struggles (which is kind of a pet peeve of mine), but there is no doubt that genetics do play a role in weight. I was a very active kid with a set of parents who have both struggled with weight to different degrees. Especially in the later years, I had soccer practice almost every day. While I didn't have an especially great diet, it wasn't really any worse than most kids and probably better than a lot. I even liked vegetables. And yet, I was always chubby anyway. What I think is really sad looking back though is that I didn't think that I was just chubby. I thought I was FAT. I thought I was huge. I looked in the mirror and saw somebody gigantic. But in 7th grade at 5'1", I remember weighing around 145 lbs. In the chubby range, but in no way fat. Sometimes I wonder if it was kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I had felt fat for so long, and finally I eventually WAS fat. I finally actually looked like that gigantic person I had seen in the mirror for years.
The one time the wind actually cooperated with my hair.
And no, I am not aware of how my team got the name "Rusty Buckets." Kind of different, I know. More to come when I actually (fingers crossed) get to play next week!