Eventually I started high school but not on cheerleading squad. I had played tennis with my family since I was a child. One of my uncles is or was a college tennis coach. (We have a large family and I'm lucky to know who is even related to me, much less what their current occupational status is. One lady who works with my mom will have nieces or nephews walk into their office, and my mom will ask, "Aren't you even going to greet your aunt?" to which they reply "Who's my aunt?" at the same time the lady says, "This is my niece [or nephew]?" I at least recognize my close relatives by sight.)
I'm not particularly gifted at tennis, but I've had more instruction than most of the others around here, so I was #2 on varsity my freshman year. It was OK, but I'm not passionate about it. I played for one season - long enough to only have to enroll in one year of PE.
In the spring of my freshman year the diving coach approached me and asked me about joining the diving team. My initial response was "Thanks but no thanks." The diving team practices very early in the morning. This year it's at 5:15 a.m. My freshman year it was at 5:00 a.m. To express my feelings in mild terms, I love sleep and I don't love early mornings. I could never be a Mormon in good standing, as are many of my cousins, because they have to attend an early morning class called "seminary" before school. They study LDS scriptures. They study some of the same ones that Catholics do, but they have the Book of Mormon and some other stuff as well. Even if they weren't discouraged from drinking Dr. Pepper and other tasty drinks, I'd have problems with that religion just from the early morning class standpoint.
My Mormon relatives believe that I will never achieve the highest degree of glory in heaven, or even the lowest degree of glory in the highest part of heaven (I know; I'm confused, too) by not joining up with them. If I feel so strongly about sleep that I'm willing to risk my eternal salvation so I won't have to get up too early, why would I want to get up at roughly the same hour to dive into a pool of cold water? (It's technically a heated pool, although not heated to a very comfortable temperature because what's comfortable to us is too warm for the competitive swimmers. Furthermore, even if it were as warm as bath water, it would still be cold when you got out of the pool in the early morning hours, which you must do frequently when you're a diver.)
So it looked for all intents and purposes as though my diving career was over before it even started. Then the diving coach explained it in a different way. "I heard you like gymnastics but your parents won't let you do them any more," he said. He had my attention. I wondered what my gymnastics participation could have to do with diving. "When you dive, you basically do gymnastics in the air for five seconds until you hit the water."
"Do my parents know that diving is 'gymnastics in the air before you hit the water?'" I asked.
"I won't tell them if you won't," he answered.
Since then, I've been hooked. The person who was formerly the biggest a.m. slug in the western hemisphere now eagerly jumps out of bed at 4:30 a.m. and hurriedly gets dressed for diving practice. Even though we only live two blocks from my school, I am not allowed to walk to school for diving practice because it's too early and the boogeyman might get me, so one of my parents, usually my Dad, who is up anyway, either walks with me or drives me to practice, depending on the weather. I would walk in the rain because I'm just going to get wet anyway, but my dad doesn't like to walk in the rain. Older adults often have forgotten what things are fun.
My parents have apparently not figured out the gymnastics/diving connection, because I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't be allowed to dive if they knew that diving is "gymnastics in the air for five seconds before you hit the water."
Then this spring another coach approached me. It seems that there is a connection between gymnastics and hurdling as well. Many track coaches recruit hurdlers from gymnastics and ballet programs. My coach was explaining it to me in motor learning terms. (Physical education teachers have usually taken a course in motor learning.)He referred to a concept in motor learning known as "positive transfer." Every skill in any given sport either has "positive transfer," where the skill from one sport lends itself directly to another sport's skill; "negative transfer," where a skill from one sport actually interferes with the skill acquisition in another sport (think tennis vs. badminton, or even the phyiscal nature of football vs. the essentially non-contact nature of basketball); or "zero transfer" (the skills I acquired in gymnstics would for the most part neither help or hurt me on the softball field). The leaping and extension of legs that are essential in gymnastics are also needed for hurdling, and the leg strength vs. body mass of a gymnast unsually translates to good overall speed. Additionally, though I'm short, I'm proportionately long-limbed, especially for a gymnast. Even if I had been good enough to reach the highest levels of the sport, this might have interfered. The best gymnasts have compact mesomorphic bodies. I'm an ectomorph by nature - not optimal for gymnastics, but perfect for hurdling. For hurdling I'd be better off it I weren't just "proportionately long-limbed," but long-limbed period. C'est la vie. One cannot have everything.
We're still working out my optimal distances. I'm probably best suited to 200 meter and 300 meter hurdles, but I'm trying everything until we figure it out. The track coach has a brain. It's caused me to rethink the "dumb jock" stereotype, as I wouldn't have looked at him and guessed that he was intelligent. He holds a master's degree in exercise physiology. My father told me that many tough science courses would have been required for the attainment of his degree. Appearances can be deceiving. I knew him slightly because freshman P. E. classes are jointly taught. We never had any run-ins, but I didn't have enough in common with the man to actually converse with him at that point.
It wasn't easy to convince my parents that I should do two sports in one season. It also required the coaches to sign an agreement with the athletic director. Because I was first on the diving team, on the three occasions when scheduled events conflict, I will participate in the diving event unless the coach is fairly certain the team can win without me or won't win even if I am there. My parents have stipulated that my grades can't drop below "A minus" in any subject if I am to continue with both sports. The athletic director went along with that as well. Normally if a parent pulls a kid off a team for grades when he or she is still academically eligible to play, the athlete is barred from participating in another sport that season or any sport the following season. Since I'm in two sports, my parents are allowed to pull me out of one for grade reasons. I could be pulled for either or both for health reasons as well, but that shouldn't be an issue.
The only problem so far is that I have limited time to watch Judge Alex. I refuse to give up Judge Alex.