LESSONS LEARNED FROM ‘THE PINES’

BY DAVE GLASGOW

WHEN I WAS A KID, MY FRIENDS AND I HAD A NAME FOR BEING SECOND STRING ON ANY TEAM WE PLAYED ON. WE CALLED IT “RIDING THE PINES”. I WAS VERY FAMILIAR WITH THAT TERM AS I HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE WITH THAT PARTICULAR VIEW OF MOST SPORTING EVENTS I ‘PARTICIPATED’ IN. IT STARTED FROM A YOUNG AGE.

I DISTINCLY REMEMBER MY FORAY INTO THE ATHLETIC WORLD. I WAS 5 YEARS OLD. MY AUNT AND UNCLE GOT ME A PLASTIC BALL AND BAT FOR MY BIRTHDAY. THE FIRST TIME I HIT THAT SPHERE IN THE ‘SWEET SPOT’, I WAS HOOKED. FROM THAT MOMENT ON, I WOULD PLAY ANY SPORT THAT CAME MY WAY. THE ONLY PROBLEM WAS, MY EAGERNESS TO PLAY FAR OUTSTRETCHED MY ABILITIES.

AS A ADOLESCENT AND TEENAGER, ESPECIALLY IN THE ERA I GREW UP, NO ONE (OR DAMN FEW) KNEW ABOUT ‘GENETICS’ OR NATURAL ABILITY. SURE, NATURAL ABILITY WAS TALKED ABOUT, BUT MOST OF US THOUGHT WE COULD OVERCOME THAT WITH HARD WORK AND PERSISTANCE. THIS WAS, TO A POINT, TRUE. HOWEVER, LITTLE DID WE KNOW THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF US DID’NT HAVE THAT ‘X’ FACTOR AND OUR EFFORTS WERE, MOSTLY, SELF FLAGELLATION. AS FOR ME, ‘THE PINES’ WERE MY CONSTANT COMPANIONS.

LOOKING BACK ON THOSE DAYS, I REALIZE, NOW, THAT I THOUGHT I WAS A LOT BETTER THAN I WAS. IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME THAT THE MANY COACHES I HAD SAW MY ABILITIES AND PRESCRIBED THE BEST PLACE FOR MY CONTRIBUTION TO THE TEAM.

HOWEVER, HERE ARE SOME THINGS I LEARNED BY BEING A UNIFORMED SPECTATOR.

PERSISTANCE. NO MATTER WHAT SPORT I WAS PLAYING, I MADE EVERY PRACTICE, EVERY MEETING, CHEERED MY TEAMMATES, WHATEVER WAS ASKED OF ME. THIS PERSISTANCE CAME IN REAL HANDY LATER IN MY LIFE.

DETERMINATION. WHAT MORE CAN I SAY ABOUT THAT. IT IS SELF EVIDENT. TO DO ANYTHING IN LIFE, YOU NEED THIS QUALITY, IN AN ABUNDENT AMOUNT. BELIEVE ME, SITTING ON THE PINES, SOMETIMES, TOOK ALL THE DETERMINATION I COULD MUSTER.

RESILANCE. SITTING ON THE BENCH TAKES A LOT OF THIS. DAILY REJECTION, IN FRONT OF YOUR PEERS, IS NOT SOMETHING I ENJOYED, AT ALL. HOWEVER, I WAS GOING TO BE DAMNED IF I WAS GOING TO GIVE IN AND QUIT. ALL I NEEDED WAS ONE ‘CHANCE’! (THAT ‘CHANCE’ CAME IN A COLLEGE SOCCER GAME. WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT GAME IS STILL PAINFUL, BUT I DID’NT STOP. I SHOWED UP FOR PRACTICE THE NEXT DAY. I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHY.)

WILL POWER. ANY OF YOU WHO HAVE HAD TO MAKE WEIGHT KNOWS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT HERE. SHOW ME A HIGH SCHOOL KID WHO IS’NT CONSTANTLY HUNGRY AND I’LL SHOW YOU A SICK KID. THIS AUTO-STARVATION WILL TEST THE VERY CORE OF YOUR BEING. AND QUESTION YOUR SANITY.

SELF ESTEEM. YEAH, I KNOW. HOW MUCH SELF ESTEEM CAN YOU GET ON THE PINES?? GOOD QUESTION. I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS A LOT. I HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT MY PARTICIPATION MADE ME THINK MORE OF MYSELF, DUE TO THE FACT THAT, BY GOD, I MAY BE ON THE BENCH WITH PRECIOUS LITTLE PLAYING TIME BUT I WAS PART OF A TEAM! SOMETHING BIGGER THAN MYSELF. THE CAMMERADERIE CARRIED OVER TO A SENSE OF SELF WORTH THAT I AM STILL PROUD OF TODAY.

I HAVE COME TO REALIZE THAT MY TIME ON ‘THE PINES’ SHAPED ME INTO WHO I AM TODAY. LIFE THROWS A LOT OF CURVE BALLS AND TAKEDOWNS. STANDING IN TOUGH TO ATTEMPT TO HIT A CURVE BALL THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BREAK IS A PARODY OF LIFE THAT IS HARD TO DENY (YEAH, I DID GET TO PLAY. ONCE IN A WHILE!). BEING TAKEN DOWN IN A MATCH IS NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT CAN AND WILL HAPPEN TO YOU IN THE REAL WORLD. LAY THERE AND GET PINNED OR GET TO YOUR BASE AND WORK OUT OF IT.

FINALLY, THE SPLINTERS IN MY ASS HAVE LEFT ME WITH GREAT MEMORIES AND I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT BEING PART OF A TEAM KEPT ME OUT OF A LOT OF TROUBLE THEN. BESIDES, WHAT BETTER WAY TO GET A RING SIDE SEAT TO THE BEST SHOW IN TOWN!??

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