Baseball mitts aren#039;t for throwing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Recently some co-workers have asked if I wanted to play in the volleyball league they were putting together for the fall.

I told them not if they want to win. My history with sports has not been full of blue ribbons and championships.

When I was 6 years old, my parents bought me my first baseball mitt after a couple of weeks in T-ball.

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I hated T-ball. But because of this mitt, I finally looked forward to going to practice.

While I stood in the outfield at practice that week, the ball rolled up to my feet. I clutched the ball in my mitt and with my new confidence threw it back to my coach.

The ball struggled to stay in the air and dove back down to the ground a few feet away. My teammates laughed at me. And so did my coaches.

"She threw with her mitt!" someone yelled between giggles.

That summer I decided I wasn't good at sports. But I probably could have realized that in gym class.

I was the girl who let the volleyball drop in front of her feet. I hated the mile we were required to run every fall and spring. During baseball, I always chose to play outfield where I drew hearts in the sand with my foot.

But in junior high I joined the tennis team and, for a short time, was a jock. I traveled to nearby towns with my duffel bag and racket and lost every doubles match I played. I finally won one in the last match of the season.

At 5'11" most people can't understand why I don't play sports.

I just tell them, "I guess it's just wasted height."

But I really wanted to be good at sports. In high school I imagined joining the newly formed girls' hockey team. I saw myself pushing past the opponents and slapping the puck into the goal.

In reality the only hockey I had ever played was with my brother on a homemade ice rink in the backyard. My brother, two years younger than me and a natural athlete, always won.

Instead of trying any more sports, I rebelled against them completely. I joined marching band and complained about the prestige jocks received. When I played in the pep band, I ignored the games and gossiped with my equally uninterested friends.

Even in college, my lack of athletic ability drew attention.

In the required gym class, the racquetball instructor, seeing our lack of ability, took another student and me aside.

Unfortunately, I was wearing my junior high tennis shirt that day.

He noticed and asked with disbelief, "You play tennis?" I lamely told him racquetball was hard to adjust to because the racket was smaller.

At least I didn't hit him in the head with the ball like the other girl did.

It has taken me a long time to appreciate sports. I rarely read the sports pages or watch ESPN for the fun of it, but I do not completely shy away from sports either. Part of this is realizing that having fun with the friends I play them with is more important than skill.

So sure, I'll play volleyball, but you can't say I didn't warn you.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at