No trophies for this grandma

Megan after Mad Mud Run 2011I've never been an athlete, never been competitive when it comes to sports and physical exertion. The only time I came even close to thinking I could come out on top in a sporting event was in first grade. It was field day and I was so enthralled with Frankie, the cutest of cute boys in my class, that I felt I could do anything, beat anyone in any competition I was signed up for—which was only the three-legged race and the tug-of-war every kid in the class was signed up for but, hey, I was ready.

Elementary school field days are a magical day near the end of the school year when the sun is warm, the excitability high, and the festive agenda includes running, racing, jumping and more. One of the highlights of field days back in my day (and back in the cold of Minnesota) was the rare opportunity to eat outside on blankets carefully placed across the school lawn instead of crammed onto cafeteria tables with built-in benches inside the dank, stale lunchroom. The picnic-style lunch was a favorite of students one and all.

My main event—the three-legged race—was scheduled for late afternoon, so I joyfully ate my lunch, sneaking peeks at Frankie across the lawn every chance I could, then looking away the second his head turned my way. We'd not yet spoken to one another; he likely didn't even know my name. But I was determined to change all that on our glorious day on the field.

My opportunity to do exactly that came just after lunch. A creek ran through the grounds just behind the school, and when we weren't on the roster for field events, many of us played along its banks awaiting our competition. Frankie was in the group of boys daring one another to jump across the water, I was in the group of girls fawning over their agility.

My eyes were in all-out adoration mode, focused on Frankie...until I saw in my peripheral vision a frog. A hopping amphibian of magical proportions that I was sure would garner me attention from Frankie, if only I could capture the creature and present it to him.

As the boys jumped and the girls watched, I stealthily approached the frog no one else seemed to have seen. The frog hopped ahead a bit. Then it hopped farther...and faster...with each step I took toward it. But I, too, moved faster and faster, determined to nab the prize and present it to my potential beau. Sensing my plan, the frog took one fantastic leap, right over the muddy bank and downward into the stream. Thanks to the momentum built in my pursuit, I, too, went over the muddy bank—then tripped and landed face first in the mud and tumbled on into the stream.

By then my stream-mates had gathered at the top of the bank, giggling as the frog hopped away. I gave up on the frog and, doing my best to hold back the tears, began my ascent up the muddy bank, slipping, sliding, stumbling as I tried to grab hold of anything that might help me reach the top. I finally made it—with no help from any of the other kids. Not from my girl friends, not from the boys, and especially not from Frankie.

I was a mess, a stinky, muddy mess. My mom was called, I was brought home to change, and I arrived back at the field just in time to join the three-legged race, which I reluctantly ran only for the sake of my assigned partner.

I can't remember whether we won or lost the race that day, but I do remember the entire experience revealed Frankie as a creep unwilling to help a lass in need. My crush was over, gone, abated for ever more.

My Frankie-and-the-frog incident had little to do with my athletic ability, but I don't recall ever being as excited about my subsequent field days and athletic attempts as I was that first fateful one. I grudgingly participated in P.E. classes throughout my school career, had a brief stint as a junior-high cheerleader, and joined a summer softball team only once as an adult—and quit soon after the team captain told me in not-so-polite terms that I really shouldn't be allowed on the field after flubbing the art of catching, throwing, batting so horrendously during practices.

There's no question about it: I'm no athlete. Jim is definitely more athletic than I, having been on wrestling, baseball, and football teams in high school, but he was never considered, by ability or association, a full-fledged jock.

Which is why it's so surprising our daughters were...and are. We could never afford for the girls to be on park & rec or club teams as youngsters, but from middle school on, all three were firmly entrenched in school sports. They continually impressed me with their participation in swimming, cross country, track, cheerleading, volleyball, soccer. Brianna and Andrea both received high-school letters and letter jackets for being three-sport athletes; Megan received the same for being in two sports plus choir.

Now that my daughters are adults, they continue to impress me with their athletic pursuits. Primarily as runners...running long distances.

Turkey Trot 2010

My daughters happily, willingly participate in 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and more. This weekend, in fact, both Megan and Andrea are running some sort of Jingle Bell race, each in their respective cities.

The athletic (although not yet all that competitive) spirit continues with Bubby. At three years old, he's an avid swimmer, loves to hike and bike, and just last week he finished up his soccer season. For his effort on the team, Bubby garnered his very first sports trophy ever.

It surely won't be his last, especially if his mommy and aunts (and daddy, too) have anything to do with it. And if he's fleet-footed enough to dodge any non-athletic influence his grandma may have on him.

Today's question:

To whom would you award the Most Athletic trophy in your family?