Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Transition to High School

30 years ago, I was going through one of the first major transitions in life. Going from the top of the heap in Middle School to becoming a lowly freshman in High School can be tricky, but for me, it was a good change.

I think the major changes had more to do with me growing up a bit than the actual environment. During eighth grade, I had grown up to almost my full height of 6 foot, and I think that gave me more confidence than anything. For a short while, I was one of the taller kids in school. It gave me a confidence that I had not had before. I was willing to stand up for myself, and I became more out-going.

I was always thankful for that boost in height, and for the friendships I had made with some of the older students. I wasn’t picked on by the upper classmen, and for the most part, my own grade had stopped picking on me as well.

I did try football for all of one day. I discovered something very important about myself that day; I really don’t like being hit. There are times when I think my sense – touch and hearing in particular – are more sensitive than other peoples. The collisions and smashing of football just rattled me so badly, I couldn’t face a second day. I’m generally not a quitter, but I made an exception.

My growth spurt also made me more clumsy; I didn’t know the dimensions of my body. I was always clumsy with my large muscle groups, but this made it worse. I’m still clumsy with those groups, although my fine muscle groups (such as fingers) are very dexterous.

I imagine that it is no surprise to anyone that I became a Fine Arts Geek. I loved drama, choir, band, and orchestra. I went and tried to talk to the art teacher, but I must have caught him on a bad day because he was a bit rude when I tried, and that was an automatic turn off. I didn’t want to have anything to do with him, so I did not take any drawing classes at all. So, I was in the performing arts.

That’s not to say I loved everything about the performing arts. My least favorite part was marching band. That may have something to do with my inherent laziness, but I think a definite part of it was the uniform. It was wool with those funky ‘water buffalo’ hats. Also, I was playing the clarinet, so I had to wear white gloves that had the finger tips cut off.

Marching band was an ordeal. The first parade we were in, in rained. Nothing quite like the smell of wet wool. We were soaked all the way through.

I also remember my dismay at some of the football games. It got sooooo cold, and there I am, wearing gloves with the finger tips cut off. The following years for marching band, I played bigger instruments where gloves could be whole. I much preferred marching sousaphone to marching clarinet.

At the first football game, I did learn a very serious lesson about good sportsmanship. I didn’t fully understand that good sportsmanship includes people beyond the teams; it includes the crowd. It’s one that is completely ingrained in me.  I don’t remember who PHS played, but we lost. I was there as part of the band, in uniform, and I remember ‘booing’ as the opposing team was walking off the field. Our choir director, who was there, immediately took steps, telling me – and whoever was with me, I don’t even remember that – that we don’t do that here and to be a gracious winner. I was embarrassed beyond belief. I did immediately put myself in the winning teams shoes, and realized how right he was. They had played a good game. Obviously a better game than we had played, and they deserved respect.

It’s a lesson that I took to heart. Even now, on the rare occasions that I go to a game, I will applaud for the opposing team if they make a good or great play. I never boo, hiss, or any of that sort of thing.

As I look at some of the professional sports, both players and fans, I wonder where their good sportsmanship went. I understand the intensity of the game and the drive of the players, but they should be helping their opponents to their feet when after they tackle or block them. And fans should most certainly not be beating up the visiting fans. They really needed someone they respect to tell them to knock it off and demonstrate good sportsmanship. (Fellow parents, that should be us from a very early age!)


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