The Press Box For May 3
Sports is more than just playing games.
Sports comes in many different avenues, for example I was kidding a person the other day and truly expected a different reaction but as it turned out he was a very good sport. I was never one who took it very well when someone was messing with me. My temper was not the best and I would get angry pretty easy. Not what you would call a very good sport.
I took sports serious when growing up and wanted to be the best at what ever I tried. If it was tennis, basketball, track or just a pickup game on the play ground, I wanted to win. Even playing a game of cards, hurt to lose. What makes a person that serious about anything? My brother was a much better pool player than me and he would rub it in, man did that burn me up.
I couldn’t stand it when someone could out swim me. Chess was the game that hurt the most, I loved to play but never could quite figure it out. Games of chance were more my style, monopoly for example was one of my favorites, I never could shoot marbles, so maybe that’s one of the reasons I don’t get to excited over the marble festival.
Table tennis or ping pong, whatever you want to call it, may have been the best sport I ever played, I think I first got hooked on it in Phys. Ed. class. I played all summer one year just so I could compete against the Phys. Ed teacher. I went into that junior year knowing I could win. He was so good and had such fast hands and reflexes but I just knew I would beat him. He laughed and said I’ll play left handed an beat you. He did and I felt that defeat for several years. Just plain hurt over losing a ping pong game!
Later I found my game, they open up a fitness center in Paden City and I was introduced to the best physical conditioning sport I had ever seen. Racketball was the game. Spend an hour in a racketball court and you drop 10 pounds plus increase hand speed and reflexes.
There were several very good players and I was getting better. I left the house to go find a good match, one of the top players was there so we went at it. I thought from the start that this might be a dangerous sport but every day I got better with out any accidents or problems. Oh, I thought I was good! That particular day I decided to go all out. I wouldn’t let anything by me, I would get the ball close to the wall and slam it back.
My competition that day was hammering them at me and on several occasions I could feel the air off his racket as it passed close by my face. The next thing I knew I was waking up in a pool of blood with a deep gash over my left eye. They were helping me up and getting me bandaged and ready to go to the hospital, where I spent three hours getting sewed up. It wasn’t till later that I found out it wasn’t by friends racket but my own that clobbered me. They said I went to hit the ball and my racket hit the glass wall and bounced back against my own face, That was the end of that game for me. It’s not so bad when someone else hit’s you but when you hit yourself it’s time to quit.
I was still in my 20s and wanted to stay in good shape. Everyday possible I was playing basketball somewhere, but it still didn’t seem to be enough. I had gained five pounds and now weighed 160. Wow was I heavy. I guess I couldn’t take it so I started jogging, at first it was fun but soon I became competitive. I had to run 8-10 miles a day or I felt like a loser, if I missed a day the guilt trip set in.. I would often compete against myself as I ran on the local hills for conditioning. My goal was the Elby’s Wheeling Distance race.
I also ran in all the other races. One of the best for me was the Big Moses held each year in Sistersville. It took a course from the City Building up past the IGA over the hill, all the way to Rt. 18 and into Sistersville by the golf course and back to the City Building. 6.2 miles. It was a great race and a great tuneup for the Elby’s.
When I ran my first Wheeling distance race, the worlds’ best distance runner, Bill Rogers ,was on top of his game and he was there. The year 1979. I was 28 years old, in great shape and ready to give it a try. 1,000 plus runners had entered, it was a big deal. We left Paden City on Friday night and spent the night at a motel in Wheeling. They had a banquet the night before the race at the civic center, it was a carb-filled meal of pasta, salad, bread and drinks. I loaded up on carbs. The race started at 9 a.m. and it was a gruelling course.
This particular year they had wheelchair entrants. I remember running to the top of Wheeling hill. Two miles from the bottom to the top. I passed several wheelchair runners but about midway down the back side of the hill I could hear “out of the way, out of the way”. Here they came, wheelchairs flying down the backside. What a race back then, I ran it three years in a row. My time in 1979 was a very good 121:17 about 6.5 minutes per mile for 12.4 miles which included two major hills. Good enough to come in 114. Each year though I got slower and by 1981 my time had dropped to a 132.65.
Some of the guys I used to run with are still active. Folks that is a real sport that will keep you in great shape, the problem is you’ll find out there will be no time for anything or anybody.
I gave it up at the age of 35 but still stayed active on the basketball court (my real love). However at the age of fifty I played what I thought was my last game. I had a heart attack shortly after playing and was told I had damaged my heart muscle by 50 percent and would never be able to play again. I gave it up but at age 58 I played my last game in the Paden City Alumni game.
My game playing days are over unless you count cards, board games or and occasional game of golf. My reason for writing this is to let all the kids in the area know that you have to enjoy it as long as you can and to give it your all in everything you do. Time has a way of sneaking up on you. If your a runner I know what your doing, I know the pain and the hurt but to become what you want to be you have to train and train hard and often. I see several dedicated kids around here. I see them in all sports and I applaud them. Keep it up, work hard, listen to your coaches and your peers and good things will happen. Some are just naturals and others have to try harder to be competitive. That’s just the way it is. Try everything you want to do. Roller Skating, Ice Skating, Gymnastics, Skiing (Which I nearly broke my neck trying) or any other sport. I hope this doesn’t sound to self centered but I really just want you all to know, what ever you do, do your best that’s what really makes a winner. Badmittin, Horseshoes, Corn Hole, Volleyball. Put-put golf, race cars, horseback riding, hunting or fishing are all great sports. Four Wheeling is another great activity Walking and cycling are now the only sports I participate in and not competitively,
Give something a try, you will gain a lifetime of memories and experience you’ll never forget. You’ll also make many lifetime friends. We are all only guaranteed so many heartbeats in this life and the most important aspect of your life is the legacy you leave behind. You leave an impression on someone somewhere just by your actions. Make every second count. God Bless! firstname.lastname@example.org