Now that you know more about the story that launched this project, and before you learn more about others’ stories, you should hear about mine.
I played Little League baseball for a month when I was nine, in the summer of 1976. I think I liked it, as I grew into someone who deeply loves baseball, but I didn’t play very long because as the only girl, it was a lot of hassle.
Now, I would know to fight for a chance to play the greatest game ever invented. But when you are nine, you don’t always know how to fight like that.
I learned volleyball and softball from my mom, Julie Ritterskamp, with whom my brothers and I always played at church events. My dad, Jack, was more instructive about how sports equipment works, but it was from Mom that we learned to throw ourselves into the moment.
I played tennis my junior and senior years of high school, because I had a crush on one of the coaches (he was also the newspaper advisor, so I joined up there, too). I had rarely picked up a racket before that, but when you are 5’11’, there are some shots you can reach just by standing in the right spot.
I was No. 12 on a 13-person team the first year, and moved up to No. 8 the next season when some folks graduated. I never played in a match against another school, but was content to keep score and fetch ice, and pick up balls hit over the fence.
I didn’t know it until the week of graduation, but the school gave you a varsity letter if you played two years, even as a sub, so even someone as bookish as I was could have a letter on their wall.
I played catcher for several years in rec league slow-pitch softball, and spent four heroic months as a tight end in a women’s tackle football league. I quit before the first game because I had a pinched disc, but had already discovered that while I am strong in ways that matter (courage, integrity, authenticity), I am not tough.
But according to my favorite writing professor, Sam Watson, I once demonstrated “a delightful felicity with words.” Ever since then, I have tried to have something worth saying, or to keep quiet. This topic seems worthy.