No Tryouts Necessary

Jayna Rohslau, ‘22

September 2019

Why you should join a sport- even if you’re positively sluggish:

Some people say that although it may be difficult, it’s best to face your fears head on.

But then again, those people make it sound so easy.  

On Tuesday, the BHSEC girl’s tennis team played against Louis Brandeis High School for the first time in all of recorded history. The fact that they had won a landslide victory the previous day did not seem to lend confidence to the Raptors, who had determined sets to their jaws, in addition to their natural drive to win some sets. Their opponents did not seem deterred either.  Armored in blue to contrast the blood-red of BHSEC’s uniforms, the Lady Bulldogs seemed fully conscious of their home-turf advantage and were prepared to use it. When the raptors initially arrived to the courts of Brandeis’s upper west side location, they were distraught to find that their foes were already preparing to make war. Hitting the balls in suave and sure strokes among themselves, they seemed to ooze intimidation.

And boy, was I glad I wasn’t playing.

While BHSEC’s tennis starting lineup stressed themselves out over strategy and game plans, my fellow alternates and I focused on a much bigger challenge: getting snacks. Prior to joining tennis, my experience with tennis had been limited to a year in third grade, and most of my friends had seldom if ever picked up a racket before the season started.  And so when the teams were both done warming up and the match play started, we were generally left to do as we pleased. In this instance, doing what we pleased meant going to the deli two blocks away, and eating our puny little hearts out on ice cream and japanese rice crackers covered with seaweed. Other times we did homework at matches, or played tennis casually amongst ourselves. But heaven forbid that we actually play against a flesh-and-blood bona fide opponent, and heaven and hell forbid that we have to keep score.

This wasn’t my first encounter with sports teams either, which you might consider surprising given how challenged I am in the athletic department. I find it surprising as well.  The PSAL sports calendar is divided roughly into Fall and Spring, and last year I did track in Spring and I had absolutely no issues with it… other than coming to the realisation that I can’t run. Which, contrary to popular belief, is actually no problem because if you think about it, track is really just about running in circles(or oblong ovals) and if you run the fastest in a circle what do you get? Just a pat on the back. And yes, this does make me feel better about the sad fact that it takes me more than 16 seconds to run a 100 meter. I’m the human equivalent of the slippery creature, that mucus secreting gastropod known as the land slug.

Photo credit: OutsideOnline   And yes, I am aware that the animal pictured below isn’t a slug. Just imagine it without the shell, and you’ll practically have my portrait.

Photo credit: OutsideOnline

And yes, I am aware that the animal pictured below isn’t a slug. Just imagine it without the shell, and you’ll practically have my portrait.

Which brings us to the question of why, pray, a land slug such as myself would even think of joining sports teams. And even more to the point, why I would attempt to convince others to join in too. After all, aren’t sports intended only for the cream of the crop of the school, the human equivalents of lions and tigers and bears? And I’ll even admit it, PE class is a burden when you move at a range of .0006 to .03 miles per hour, and your next period teachers don’t understand that this is your reasoning for why you’re always late to class.  

And yet, the answer is surprisingly simple. Let’s go back to the tennis match, between BHSEC and Louis Brandeis. The day is pristine, beautiful, gorgeous, all the synonyms for those three words that you can possibly imagine, and then some. Meanwhile, the teams on both sides are stressing about how they’re going to possibly beat their opponents when I mean I think I can take her just look at her but looks can be deceiving is running through their brains, and ugh I have so much homework I can’t think straight, or in one particular instance, the sun is so bright I can’t freaking see. Such concerns went unnoticed by the alternates, who worried about homework, sure. But homework was so far away in comparison to ice cream at the deli, and talking to other people infinitely more enjoyable. The fact of the matter is that at BHSEC, there is pressure on everyone to do well at school and clubs and better than everybody else. But when you are the human equivalent of a land slug, you are already worse at sports than everybody else, and therefore there shouldn’t be any pressure since you don’t have anything (save for your dignity) to lose. So there’s that.

I still didn’t want to play.

It is a testament to the might of the BHSEC tennis team, that of the three singles and doubles matches taking place on Tuesday, all were won. From there, perhaps intoxicated on victory, someone thought it would be a particularly bright idea to have an exhibition match between two of the lesser players. Which were, unsurprisingly, one girl from the Louis Brandeis team. Oh, and me.

The funny thing is that as much as I didn’t want to play initially, even in the first game I found myself getting invested in the match. That’s the other thing about sports: there’s a reason that most require you to commit three to four days a week, and although you may be terrible to begin with that just leaves all the more room for improvement. And whether you identify as a slug or not, I’m sure you are familiar with the experience of working hard to get somewhere.  

Back to the question of why.  When I joined tennis as well as track I went in with fairly low expectations, hoping to get athletic PE(i.e. No gym class) the following year.  What I didn’t expect was to make great experiences, from the immense satisfaction of completing a 400 to getting bubble tea after practice. And what’s more, I didn’t expect to have fun.  You know what I’m trying to say. It may be too late to join a Fall sport, but winter is coming. And after Winter, Spring.  

Oh, and if all this wasn’t enough to convince you: athletic PE.  Need I say more?