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Baseball: I love baseball because my dad let me play when I was younger. I didn’t understand any of the rules or strategy until I was much older, but catching the ball was always exciting to me. Feeling the ball pop in your glove from a pop-fly or making a diving catch or having to run a long way for the ball was always exciting. I liked being at bat because patience was rewarded, and I liked getting walked. It took me a long time to get the gist of hitting, but I had a few really good hits in my career (I’m not claiming to be good by ANY means lol) but the few solid hits that I got were worth my playing career even if I wasn’t as good as my dad was when he played or even my brother. Throwing was always my weakest part, as I didn’t have the confidence in my arm to throw it where I wanted to. I only hind-caught at one practice of my brother’s and I loved every second of it. As I got older, I enjoyed the pitching aspect a lot more, watching people’s windups and the mental aspect of the game as to what pitch to throw and where. I also love seeing teams that are bad because I want to know why they are so bad. In my later years, the camaraderie of the team was something that was irreplaceable. A bunch of guys that you have never been with and friends that were your friends were life coming to play ball was the best part. Goofing off in the dugout while you’re getting blown out were fun times. Everyone was there to have fun and it was great. I wouldn’t trade that for being drafted in the MLB. The only thing that ruined it were a couple of coaches that took the game too seriously, but the camaraderie was just amazing. I hated it when we had to go back out on the field (for a while at least) because the dugout camaraderie was so fun. I hated playing the outfield because people always yelled at you, but as I got older, I loved running after the ball. It was so fun, even in practice. But I hated throwing the ball into the cutoff man. I got to play shortstop one game after someone didn’t show up and I made a diving catch and a throw to second I think to start a double play and that was one of my defensive highlights. I just reacted and didn’t think I could do it lol I hated running the bases though. I was too aggressive for the speed that I had lol I hated a couple of my coaches, too. But a couple of solid hits that I got to right-field a couple of times were exhilarating. I got hit in the chest one time by a line-drive at third base one time at practice, so that was crazy. But I didn’t really think much of it. I couldn’t stand running the bases at practice, though.
Football: The main reason I loved football is because my dad would watch it all the time. I started out circling different names on a piece of paper as a kid that were apparently football teams and it turns out I was selecting who I thought would win, but I enjoyed watching comebacks before I knew any of the rules or strategy. It started out as a bonding experience with my dad, but when I got to school I got ridiculed a lot so I kind of turned against it. I really enjoyed watching the deep passes and catches and I would watch NFL classics all the time. I’ve always enjoyed them for some reason that I’ve never understood. I don’t really care about the big hits, but I love watching quarterbacks throw pretty passes. I would go in the backyard and throw a football all the time pretending I was getting pressured and throwing a perfect pass. I never got to play in any leagues, though. I also enjoyed how excited everyone was who watched the NFL. The weather games are also one of my favorite parts of the game, and I love watching terrible teams play for some reason. I guess I just like to know how a team can be so bad. It’s extremely fascinating. I love running after a pass and trying to catch a throw, but I’d hate wearing all of those pads. I wore a helmet one time and tried to pat myself on the head to see what it felt like and it was too loud for me. I’ve always had sensitive ears and had a lot of problems with them as a kid.
Basketball: Oh, basketball. My first true love. When I first started playing, I just ran around and when someone came into the paint, try to stop them and I usually fouled them. At first, I was afraid of fouls because I knew you could “foul out” and my main goal was to not do that. If I did that, I thought I had won. I usually played forward and my coaches had said “stay between this line and here”, so I just did that over and over. I don’t remember when it happened, but I finally got aggressive and played the center position and scored a lot of points in the paint off of the backboard and guarded anyone who came into the paint as hard as I could and tried to start fast breaks, but I almost always turned the ball over when I did that. I couldn’t handle the ball (I wasn’t confident back then) so I usually just passed it to the ball-handlers on the team. Basketball provided some of the greatest highlights of my playing career. I hit an off-balance three pointer (I think the first I had ever made. I had attempted some before, maybe two or three, but missed them) to either tie or win a game late. I think I saved a ball that was heading out of bounds in the corner or I got passed the ball near the top of the key and tried to dribble open but couldn’t and had to shoot a fade-away shot in the corner as the buzzer sounded. Another highlight though that I’m most proud of (as the shot was mainly luck) was a defensive play I made a couple of years before that. Our team had just hit a basket to put us ahead and everyone on my team was pressing as the clock was winding down. I saw one of their players bolt towards their open net and there was no one back defending a potential open lay-up. So I sprinted as hard as I could and the in- bounder tried to chuck the ball to him. I jumped and tipped the ball away as the buzzer sounded and the whole gym erupted. I was almost deaf. We were playing at home and I was so fucking excited. All of the parents were cheering me and my mom was SO proud of me. When I got to Jr. High, we played basketball almost everyday and that is where my appreciation of the game really blossomed. I really started to develop a good shot. When I was in about ninth or maybe tenth grade, I would go in the backyard and shoot every shot imaginable for hours. I would go to the school or stay in the backyard and sometimes shoot from about 4:30 in the afternoon until almost 10 o’ clock at night: sometimes much later. One of my coaches taught me about the physical nature of basketball, and that was another pivotal moment for me. Before that, I had just guarded whomever came into the paint with the fear of fouling them (by the way, back then I was never confident at free throws and never understood fouls) and I never understood what constituted a travel (got called for a lot of those), but one of my coaches taught me how to be physical. There were only two players, maybe three or four and practice that day. My coach was teaching rebounding, and I was only getting the ball when it was coming right to me. That’s what I thought I was supposed to do. But my coach said “Go get that ball. That ball is yours.” So I went after it. Then he blocked me out (I didn’t know what it was called at the time), and he said “Get around me. That’s still your ball.” So I tried to get around him and I realized that contact was ok. I finally started boxing people out and that was the first time that I had ever gotten aggressive in the paint. That was MY paint and I was going to defend it at all costs, regardless of whether or not I fouled out (and I fouled out several times) and I called for the ball in the paint and hit a lot of bankers. I got fouled quite a bit but my free throw shooting was poor as the pressure got to me most of the time. I finally started getting confident after getting my ass kicked in high-school consistently. I was tired of not handling the ball or getting rebounds and it pissed me off so bad that I kept playing and kept playing because I knew no one thought I could play, and that has fueled me to this day and has developed my passion for the game. Now I can dribble, rebound, and shoot better than I ever could and my knowledge of the game has skyrocketed about the rules and strategy, and it’s a passion that I’m going to take with me up until my deathbed. Coaching is fun and the mental aspect of the game is just as fun as the physical aspect. Trying to get open, hitting teammates, guarding people. The whole game is just a beautiful game, and I thank Jerry Naismith greatly for it.
Ice hockey: I love ice hockey because it’s so foreign. I like different things and, being from the South, ice hockey is EXTREMELY foreign. I love the sounds that it makes (the skating, the slap-shots, the players hitting the boards) and the hockey sticks remind me of eating popsicles and the wooden sticks that they were always frozen on. I like the “kuh” sound that you hear a lot from the game and the sounds are just appealing to me for some reason, and the beautifully orchestrated skating that is interrupted by the violent hits is appealing to me. Football is too regimented for me: I like the freedom that ice hockey provides. Plus I think it would be cool to play a sport in a cold venue.
Golf: I always wanted to play golf. It’s fun because of the judgment you have to use to time your shots just right and I like the way it feels when you swing a golf club.
Poker: I love the psychology that goes on in a poker hand. Bluffing, reading your opponent and determining how much to bet are my FAVORITE parts. I don’t really care about the strengths of the hands.
Auto racing: I hated racing cars myself, but my friend has turned me on to racing. I don’t like it when people try to get me to conform to something, and I always felt like cars were one of those things. I would rather be learning math than fixing a car (or fixing anything mechanical, for that matter. I always thought of it as a chore and never fun), but if I can learn things at my own pace without other people telling me what to do, I enjoy it a lot more). I hated driving go-carts because they were too loud and powerful for my sensitive brain, and I always floored it and got scared so I could never control it. That’s why, to this day, I still hate controlling vehicles. I loved riding in the go-cart with my uncle when I was a kid though. It was so fun.
Soccer: Soccer was always my favorite sport to play before I really got into basketball. It was fun to run around and try to kick the ball. I loved making sliding plays to kick the ball away from someone else, and it was fun to be on the sideline as well. I just loved hanging out with everybody. I enjoyed light-hearted practices, where no one was any good but we all tried, and I hated coaches that took it seriously and wanted to win and ran us to death. But kicking the ball was always fun. I got to play goalie one year and I was pretty decent at it. It was all just reactions, really. One year when I was wearing glasses, it was pouring rain while we were playing and my glasses were fogged up and I got hit right in the face with a shot and it bent my glasses but at least I could see lol (long story). I hated running up the hill at Nebo every practice to the point of exhaustion. That was pointless to me. That wasn’t why I was playing soccer. I wasn’t playing to get better, I was playing to have fun and that season was no fun at ALL.
August 18, 2012.
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