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You probably guessed this about me, but I am something of a fierce athlete. When I walk onto a field to engage in athletic pursuits of any variety, the other players instinctively know to back slowly and gently away from me, their hands up in a classic “I didn’t do it” position.

Of course, I tell myself that the fear in their eyes stems from the knowledge that I will surely best them in our competition. More realistically, it is because they know that when I play sports, someone is going to get hurt. It’s usually me, but I have been down to incur collateral damage.

A Long and Storied History of Trying to Make Team Sports Work for Me

As a child, I had the opportunity to play whatever team sport I wanted. I tried soccer, basketball and flirted with the idea of volleyball (until I realized what you have to wear to play volleyball). By the time I was in middle school, it was pretty well established that sports were “not my thing.” Still, by the wonders of peer pressure and hormonal insecurity, I decided to join the 8th grade softball team.

You don’t need to know much about my epic softball season:

  • I played right field – unless the batter was left handed, then I played left field.
  • The first practice, I impressed the coach with both my Keds and the amount of blood that came out of my nose the first time I tried to catch the ball.
  • I hit the ball once – at the first game, even – and that was the last time I hit the ball.

After sucking at softball, I put team sports on the back burner until college. During my senior year, fueled by too much Red Bull and a strange compulsion to “make memories that will last a lifetime,” I joined the dining hall’s intramural flag football team. When my “fuel” for the first game was a pack of cigarettes and a large Diet Pepsi (and I showed up in Keds with no socks), my teammates knew that they could count on me being useless. Hey, I was a good spectator, though.

A New Era

Given my terrible track record, I should probably avoid team sports for the rest of my life. Alas, I’m a masochist and my friend Marcia wanted company on the alumni softball team. So here I am again, playing on a team. Chances are, I’ll get hit in the face and spend a lot of time sitting on the bench. It’s going to be awesome!

This is probably how it’s going to go.

The one thing I do know is that I shouldn’t show up to the first game in Keds with no socks. Apparently, the athletic people aren’t into that. Beyond that, I’m at a loss. What do I need to do to excel at alumni softball, citizens of the internet?

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