Picture this, a four year old with glasses. Now I know, all sorts of things come to mind with this image. Now add a bit of a lazy right eye. Got that image? Go ahead and add my overbite that arrived somewhere along the way. What you have is a four year old who is farsighted (yes, much less common) with corrected vision to make close up vision better. [In hindsight, I can only imagine what this did to my depth perception (keeping in mind this was 49 years ago and whatever limitations were associated with that process)]. The final two pieces, I come from an extremely non-athletic family AND I skipped kindergarten and had a December birthday. So, I started first grade at age 5 – developmentally behind the curve.
As you can imagine, I was the butt of a lot of teasing. I had very few friends and felt pretty uncomfortable. Apparently I caused some problems in school as well. It certainly did not help that my teacher, let’s call her Miss Smith, did not appear to like me. On a side note, the teasing and bullying actually followed me through school and into another state. It did not cease until about midway through my sixth grade year.
So what does this have to do with being an athlete (you may be asking). All sorts of things. My younger age and subsequent developmental level coupled with what was likely poor depth perception, and being VERY unpopular (read as last picked and least wanted for team play) may have left me feeling very inadequate physically. Not to worry, when you come from a brainy rather than brawny family, this is not such an issue. Or was it?
I can remember playing kickball and not being able to kick the ball. Softball, swing and a miss. Failure after failure. I was the biggest (tallest and a little chubby) kid in my ballet class at around age 8. My friends could do cartwheels, handstands, and splits. I could do a somersault forwards and if lucky, backwards. As an aside, I actually broke my collarbone around age 11 backwards somersaulting off of a friend’s mother’s bed. She did it, then I tried…and crashed. All the evidence appeared to be adding up – I was NOT athletic.
And then, something wonderful happened when I was 13. I discovered ice skating…