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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Believe you can hit a homerun

Well, my grandfather must have know when he delivered me and named me "Kasey" that I would be a Tomboy and enjoy sports, especially baseball.  In the neighborhood, and when I met people, I was sometimes referred to as "Casey at the Bat," an old children's book character. It fit well when I was growing up as I played softball for many years and was a huge fan of the Cleveland Indians.

A favorite childhood memory is when my father  took me out of school for an opening day game. We rode the rapids down to the bitterly cold stadium and  enthusiastically watched the game while some  moment in history happen on the field.   To this day my neighbor friends have to remind me that I was too young to even know what had happened (some african american manager also played and stole a base or something??) I was in too much awe over the entire scenario to notice such sophisticated details! I returned to school the next day with a note from my mother simply stating, "Please excuse Kasey from school. She was absent yesterday." You can imagine the nun's facial expression as I stood there with my fresh Indians pennant, an Indians program and probably Cracker Jack crumbs still on me.

My grade school softball team won the trophy 3 out of 4 years. The final year they finally separated my teammate, Monica and I and we ended up in playoffs against each other. After many innings, and extra innings, of very competitive play, Monica's team finally won the championship. Still, I was a great player, at least everyone thought I was. I, too, thought I was. I was "Kasey at the Bat!!!" I believed I was great and could hit a homerun without any doubt. I had believers behind me and the belief within me and that was all it took.

It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized otherwise. First was when I reflected back to a basketball camp I attended the summer before 9th grade. I was hot on the courts at my little elementary school so it seemed only natural for the coach to send me off to camp so I could play for my upcoming private all-girls high school. However, at camp I was not the fastest on the court and therefore couldn't get to the hoop in time to make several attempts at a basket. To put it bluntly, I sucked. I put the experience behind me and took to Cross Country and Track in high school, instead.

Then, as an adult, while playing co-ed softball with a number of kids from my neighborhood, my one neighbor approached me in the dugout. She said, "Man, Kasey, when you were a kid, you were hot, you were the best softball player in the neighborhood. Everyone feared you................NOW, you suck!" WOW was she right! I hadn't played for about 10 years and quite frankly, I couldn't hit very far at all. I truly sucked at the game and was eventually made Designated Runner.  I had realized that the only thing that made me good at both sports was my ability to outrun everyone. Once I faced bigger competition at the camp and with adult men, I couldn't outrun their plays. I really didn't hit the ball that far to get my homeruns, I just ran faster than the outfielders could play.

Thank goodness for my belief in myself and the belief from others. Had I realized as a child that the only gift I had was the ability to outrun poor outfielders, I may not have played so well. I am grateful for all of those who also didn't see this and believed in me and my ability to hit homeruns!

Now as a counselor, I get new students coming to my big public school from their  small parochial schools. Their parents tell me what outstanding athletes they are and how their child will be playing varsity sports with us because they are so good. I just can't help but wonder if it's really only that they can outrun the slow players....but hey, I would never destroy what a child believes in him/herself!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Laugh in the pool

Well the dog days of summer are gone, but the memories still linger! When I am asked how my summer was or what I did over my summer vacation, I immediately smile. My memories are fond and full of fun times, mainly at our pool.

It became an expected weekly event to have pool parties on specific days of the week based on everyone else's work schedule. Mondays, Fridays and Sundays were a weekly given! Ages ranged from 3 to, well, over 3.... Often times it was hard to separate who the kids were and who the adults were. We had chicken fights, swim contests and diving contests. Laughter ensued in all activities whether organized or not!

My older sister, with whom I swam with all of my life, even participated in the diving events for the first time ever! We laughed heartily watching her attempt various acrobatic stunts off of the diving board with little to no grace! We were in stitches watching all of the girls, adults and kids, entertaining us on the diving board while the boys judged their attempts. My father and uncle often times stopped by just to hang out and would laugh heartily at the lighthearted fun going on in the pool. It made their day!

I even had an old friend come over who has been in odd sorts over the years. To see her laughing at the pool really meant a lot to me! The pool can bring out the best in anyone and help people forget their woos.Friends and family members going through divorce, depression, financial losses, etc., seemed to be in good spirits when around our pool!

The children really help make the experience fun!  They have no inhibitions and forget their woos and worries rather quickly. They are resilient and fun-loving and seem to always be looking for ways to keep themselves laugh! They teach us to be young at heart and to laugh at the silly, simple and fun things. We need to never lose our ability to laugh at the little things and the fun times!!!