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Monday, August 22, 2016


This re-run is from August 2012

One of the reasons I like to write is it is a way to pass along family stories which might otherwise be lost.  It is a way for future Hagys to know me and the family which preceded them.  I may not always have the stories correct, but they are close enough and hopefully they will pass a true sense of who we are to generations that I will never meet.

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.”    


  1. You're right, a perfect game wouldn't have much to remember.

  2. Whiffed? Is that a fresh air shot where the stick doesn't connect with the puck?

  3. Well, she still had the glory of the dribble-drive! Though she probably wasn't laughing in real whiffing time.

  4. What a remarkable woman. Loved this story and I'm glad you told it.

  5. You had a amazing mother! She had a wonderful sense of humor, i'm sure.

  6. What a great story Joe. :) Your mom sounds amazing and I totally get that 5'2" description. My grandma wasn't even 5', my mom was *just* 5' and my daughter is *just* 5'. Dynamite comes in small packages. :) Here's to all the whiffs in life. May they allow us to live to be at least 80 and as cool as your mom. :)

  7. What a delightful story about a delightful woman. When you look at the Olympics, you realize today that women athletes are a big draw but in her day the opportunities were very slim. Bless her for getting in there and going for it.

  8. This has to be one of my favorite posts yet here. What a lovely memory of your mother.

    Have a fabulous day Joe. ☺

  9. My mother is 91 and has taken to reliving past glories. I just smile and doubt that these stories are true. I mean, how can she claim to have been a deprived child of the Depression yet she was a terrific baseball and basketball athlete, and she canoed and rode horses? Such a tragic childhood!

  10. I was just telling one of my favorite stories of my youth today about how I pitched a no-hitter in a Little League game when I was about 12 and lost the game 5 to 2. The guy I was telling the story to asked how that could be. My response (as always): "No infield."

  11. Great story! I really could picture the 5’2” 105 lb. 80 year-old lady demonstrating!

  12. My mom was a jock too back 90 years ago. Sure would have been nice to see her in action!


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