I'm no longer an athlete, but that's okayBy Terrin Waack | 11/12/2015 2:31pm
The first outfit my dad dressed me in was a Green Bay Packer’s onesie. If that doesn’t speak to the fact that I’ve grown up with sports being a part of my life since I was born, I don’t know what does.
We were the family that would have three TVs set up in the living room any given weekend. One TV would have the New England Patriots’ game – we moved to Massachusetts before I turned two. The second TV would have the Packers’ game on. The third TV would have anything else my dad wanted to watch, which ranged from NASCAR, golf, hockey or baseball.
Once I was old enough to stand up on my own – if it were up to my dad, it would have been before then – I began playing sports, and boy did I try a little bit of everything. In my 20 years of life, I have done ballet, gymnastics, basketball, softball, cheerleading and volleyball.
I'm also proud to say I participated in a majority of the recess flag football games during elementary school and then started in both high school junior and senior PowderPuff games, which were full-contact tackle with no pads. No big deal or anything. *Insert hair flip here.*
The other sports were actually organized, however, and one by one, I eventually stopped playing or participating in them all.
First I quit gymnastics because, no matter how much I wanted to be, I wasn’t any good. Ballet followed because it was in the midst of my tomboy stage and it was way too girly for me. So, despite my mom’s objections, I quit and my dad was all for it. I quit cheerleading after my first – and only – year doing it because first of all, I’m not that peppy, and second of all, I’d rather face the field and watch the game than cheer towards the crowd.
I should have quit basketball way before my freshman year of high school, but I didn’t until then. I’m short. I’ve always been short, so I don’t know why I thought basketball was OK for me to do.
I took volleyball and softball more seriously. I never thought I was going to give those up until I did.
Volleyball went first, and not by choice. I got cut my sophomore year of high school. To do this day, I can honestly say I’m still shocked, but that’s a different story. It’s safe to say that crushed me. I continued to play club volleyball through to my junior year however. Softball was by choice. I debated back and forth before my junior year season whether or not I wanted to play. In the end, I gave it up because I realized I no longer enjoyed it nor was I looking forward to the new season.
For the first time in 17 years, I was not playing a sport. I didn’t know who I was if I wasn’t an athlete. I had to find a new love but I didn’t want to give up my former love for sports.
I’ve always been a writer. It’s been my outlet for my emotions since my first childhood heartbreak in fifth grade. I never really thought that I loved writing, though. Sports had always been my love. I couldn’t have more than one love, could I? I still don’t know the answer to that because I found a loophole. I combined my two loves into one: sports journalism.
I showed up to my first newspaper meeting that junior year, and oh boy did I think I was too cool to be there. Eventually, I got over myself and accepted the fact that I was going to write for the school newspaper, and that I actually enjoyed writing for the school newspaper.
Because it was high school and there really wasn’t much competition regarding who covers what for the newspaper, I got to do sports. I wrote about our cheerleading squad, the poms dance team, the softball team and, my favorite to this day, the football team.
I got a cool little press pass – a little cooler than the ones I get now – that allowed me on the sidelines during football games. Being on the sidelines at all different types of games made me realize I could still be a part of the sports world. I may not have been an athlete anymore, but I was still around every aspect of that lifestyle – minus the sweat.
I had found a new passion, a new dream and a new love in sports journalism.
But, that doesn’t mean I’m ever going to sit on the sideline if I can ever actually participate.