THE GREAT FIELD HOCKEY WHIFF
My mom, your “Gammie” or your “Great (fill in great as needed) Gammie” was quite the athlete. I know this because she told me so.
I know she was a fast runner. When my brother Jim was 12 he bragged at how fast he was, “The fastest in my class.” Mom claimed she was also a fast runner, probably still faster than Jim.
Neither my brothers nor I had ever even seen mom run. No one thinks of their mom as a “fast runner” she’s a mom…what the heck? The challenge was on.
Mom versus Jim in a fifty yard dash…it was not even close. Mom won by several yards…AND JIM WAS FAST!!
We all had a new respect for my mom.
In high school mom played basketball, swam, and played field hockey. If the school had a team, mom was on it. Of course her graduating class was 34 strong…and it was co-ed.
Mom was a strong swimmer; it was the exercise which kept her condition of scoliosis from making her a cripple as they had no other treatment at the time.
She often talked about basketball and how she would have been good except she was only five-foot-two and girls were not allowed to dribble, “You got one bounce and one step.”
Her most famous story was her big moment in Field Hockey.
Mom’s greatest sports memory was of failure. She really only told one sports story. I’m sure she must have won some races in swimming, and she must have scored some goals in field hockey, but what did she remember, what was the only sports story she ever told?
It was her field hockey whiff.
To fully appreciate this story you have to picture a 5’ 2” 105lb. 80 year-old lady telling it with wildly gesticulating arms and legs.
In a crucial game which was tied, Mom took the ball and dribbled from her goal to the opposing team’s goal. She drove through player after player (picture a 5’ 2”105lb. 80 year-old lady demonstrating) first one player then another. In and out she flew towards the goal. She was fast. She was agile (picture 5’2” 105lb. 80 year-old lady almost knocking down several lamps in her demonstration). She was unstoppable. She could hear her mates cheering; the crowd of fifteen was going wild. She approached the goal, deftly dodged the rushing goalie with an incredible spin move, wound up and fired at the now unguarded goal and……whiffed.
Mom did not remember who won the game. She only remembered that she whiffed. “I did everything right. It was the most beautiful run ever. I dodged everyone and at the last second I whiffed.” And then she laughed. Mom always thought the story was funny. In her mind, if she hadn’t whiffed the story wouldn’t have been worth telling.
You do not always learn from success. Years later few will remember a single goal scored. A whiff will teach you humility. A whiff will force you to have a sense of humor. A whiff will make a good story.
It may seem strange, but mom was always proud of her “Great Field Hockey Whiff.”