It’s no surprise that when I got married eight years ago, I exchanged rings and vows with a rather athletic man. Jared, like Jenn’s husband, is a natural athlete. He’s tall and lean and picks up new skills like I pick up commercial jingles—fast. I mean, for example, I’ve played volleyball for the vast majority of my life. I played on school and club teams and went to really intense camps. I know my stuff. But, after I helped Jared with his form just a few times, he was already a better server than I was. Jerk.
Kidding. I think it’s awesome. So long as he’s on my team.
Anyway, I don’t think it shocked anyone that I settled down with a fella who could hang with me on the sport court du jour. After all, my dad, Earl, was a pretty darn good athlete in his prime, playing basketball, football and fast-pitch softball. He’s now moved more into the realm of shuffleboard and Wii bowling—in fact, he and Mom can beat Jared and me at both games—but he and I still occasionally play a game of HORSE or have a free-throw shooting contest.
Aside from shooting hoops with my dad when I was a kid, I also played ball with a lot of guys. (No, that’s no a euphemism—I’m only talking about basketball.) There was a small gym with a couple of hoops in the church I went to, and a couple of the boys in my Sunday School class played a lot of basketball. Those of you who have lived up north know that an indoor basketball hoop is practically a godsend in the middle of winter, and there were countless Saturdays spent there, running up and down the courts, shooting around and having a great time.
I learned a lot from those guys, but one of the biggest lessons was to not be intimidated. They were bigger (well, okay, some of them were bigger—I was really, really tall compared to my classmates from grades four to 10) and definitely better than I was. While I know they didn’t block me as often as they could, they didn’t exactly take it easy on me. But I still went back every time we had a key to that gym—I didn’t need to be the best; I just needed to be good enough to hang in there, and confident enough to laugh at myself when a shot went terribly, horribly wrong.
And besides, do you know why I was able to pull rebounds away from the 6-foot centers my little 5-foot-8-inch ass had to guard in high school? Because I learned to pull rebounds away from 6-foot-3-inch (with springs for legs!) Jason.
That confidence, which started by playing some driveway basketball with the first Fit Bottomed Dude in my life, my dad, and continued to grow as I played against other guys, is something that’s helped me in a huge way now. I don’t want to be the worst person on the court (or in the gym, or, you know, wherever), but I believe in myself enough to give just about anything a try. I can hop into a pickup game, or join in on a group run, or say, “Sure, why not?” when really fast friends ask me to join them for a swim workout. I know I’ll do my best, I know I’ll have a good time, and at the end of it, even if I’ve fallen behind my fellow athletes, I’ll be that much better. And maybe next time, I won’t fall behind at all.
Do you have any Fit Bottomed Dudes in your life who have made you a better athlete? —Kristen