I walk out of the girl’s locker room alone and meet up with all the boys. We’re all wearing football jerseys; the colors of purple and silver fill the hall. I’m surprised I don’t feel so repressed by the football pads. All the boys look at me, some laugh, others holler. We make it outside to the field, where the Coach is waiting. Here I go. I can’t believe I’m actually trying out for the school football team.
We run some laps around the field as a warm up. Good think I’m a fast runner. After we finish, myself ending in the middle of the group, the Coach orders us to do one-hundred push-ups. One-hundred! How am I possibly going to survive this? After the fiftieth one, my arms feel like rubber, but I push myself farther. I have to make this; I need to. Oh, this is bad. I’m barely surviving the warm-ups and we didn’t even start a scrimmage yet.
When I finally make it to one-hundred I try not to collapse onto the grass. I don’t want the others to think I’m a weakling. Coach yells for us to line up. He starts from my left, taking attendance. When he gets to me, he looks me down. I’m guessing he’s trying to intimidate me. Well, it’s not going to work.
“I’m guessing you’re Jennifer, since that’s the only girl’s name on my list.“
”Yes, Coach.“ I reply.
”And what position are you trying out for?“ he questions me like he’s already decided not to pass me.
”Wide receiver.“ I answer with as much confidence as I can muster up.
He moves onto the boy next to me. I take a deep breath to calm myself down. When the Coach gets to the end of the line, he starts shouting.
”All the numbers I call out are on the Purple team. The rest are the Silver. We’re going to have a scrimmage.“
This is it!!! Coach calls the numbers, fourteen being one of them; my number. I run out and join the Purple team. One of the guys comes up to me.
”Hey, Jenny. It’s Louis.“ He says, his helmet shielding his face.
”Just wanted to wish you good luck and hope you don’t break any bones.“
”Thanks.“ I nervously smile. ”Did you break any of your bones you’re first time?“
He laughs and walks away.
God, I hope that wasn’t meant to be a yes.
Coach blows the whistle and the game begins. We all start running to the opponents’ side. The others tackle and block the Silver team. I’m open but the Quarter-back doesn’t pass it to me. The Silver team intercepts the ball and scores a couple of yards. What the hell was his problem? That could’ve been our team that scored some yardage, but no he didn’t pass it to me.
This happens for some time. By the time the second quarters over, the Silver team is winning, 17 to 0. Everyone on my team is pretty pissed. The Quarter-back is just making some pretty bad mistakes; if he only passed the ball to me…
Once the game continues, finally, the Quarter-back decides to throw it to me. I catch it at the fortieth yard line and run for my life. I dodge about five guys, praying I don’t get tackled and break a bone. Sooner than I hoped for, I get tackled, at the tenth yard line. Fortunately, it was only by one guy and he helps me up. Wow, I’m surprised he did that. I wonder who he is.
Coach blows the whistle and the Quarter-back throws the football to me. I catch it, almost missing, and book it. I make it to the end-zone, however get tackled. I feel my arm crack. I cry in pain and immediately the guys get off of me. I look up and see my hand is still holding the football; the football is across the line.
”YES!“ I yell as I jump in the air, forgetting about my excruciating pain in my left arm.
Coach and everybody else look and see the ball is in the end-zone. I smile brightly and jump up and down like the girl I am. Suddenly, pain shoots up my arm and I scream. Coach brings me over to the bench and gives me an ice pack to put on my elbow. The game continues and some other guy replaces me.
Yeah, I definitely think an ice pack will help with the pain in my arm. It’s not like I heard it crack or anything.
As the game comes to a close, I get up and put the ice pack in the cooler, my arm still throbbing. The Silver team still won, 24 to 17, but we were close. Everyone looks at me on the walk back to the locker rooms but doesn’t say a thing.
As I walk into the locker room I call my Mom to pick me up and bring me to the hospital. I guess that’s what I get for trying-out for a high school football team. Once I get out of my uniform, and let me tell you it was very difficult with my injury, Coach comes up to me.
”I’m very sorry about your injury, Jennifer. With it, you’re not going to be able to play this season. It’s a shame; you probably would’ve made it too.“
And with that he walks away and I walk to the parking lot, waiting to get a lecture about how this was all a bad idea from my Mom.
Narrative Of My Fear.
2010 (c) Jennifer Gioia