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On Sports

Michael Petrillo

Or Once a Jock always a Jock

Sports were a big part of High School life. All of the friends that I hung out with liked sports.  All of them participated in sports.  We played every sport, in season, and even sports that were not conventional. In Summer, it was baseball, softball, or street hockey; Fall brought tackle or touch football and street hockey; Winter—street hockey (unless we were lucky enough to have a pond freeze so we can play ice hockey) or bobsledding down Knob Hill; Spring usually started with street hockey, and a resurgence of all the other sports, whatever the mood was.  Also there were bouts of ultimate Frisbee, 100 yard egg toss, and the occasional street hockey game.  We played every sport, with the possible exception of basketball (which we did play but not very often).  For the school, I ran Cross Country and Track.  Most of us were on one team or another: Wrestling, Football, Baseball, Track, Cross Country, you name it.

Our high school was also very cutting edge for gym class – implementing a new concept – Co-ed classes.  That way girls could experience sports that usually only boys played and vice versa.  I remember when we went to play field hockey thinking how this was going to be great – we were all excellent at street hockey and hockey is hockey (Right?).  What a rude awakening to find out that in field hockey you can only use one side of the stick (the other side is rounded).  Since I am a left hand shot, I had a huge disadvantage – all the sticks we had to use were backwards from the way I shoot.  Instead of a very enjoyable gym class, it turned out to be rather miserable.  Co-ed gym class ended (at least the physical sports) when we played soccer, and George D. broke Patty Armstrong’s leg.  That was the one and only time I remember us playing soccer.  After that boys only got to play with boys and girls only got to play with girls.  There were 2 exceptions:  Square dancing and obstacle course.  I suppose George could have broken Patty’s leg during square dancing; that would have been interesting.

When I think about the friends that played sandlot sports with me, I can’t honestly say that any of them would qualify as a “jock”.  When you say jock, you immediately conjure a picture of the stereotypical Athlete of our generation.  However, I would argue that all of us would probably qualify as “Athletes” or at least “Athletic”.  I say that because it did not matter what sport we did, nor what requirements that sport demanded, everyone could perform and play well. Whether we ran 8 miles, or dodged a little red ball that was hurled at our face (and would leave a big welt, especially if Gary Wallace or Goat, threw it), we were all champions of the known world in every sport.

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