Is it fowl or foul?

“What are you, chicken? …You yellow-belly turd.” *

In sixth grade, my very wise parents decided that I needed to play basketball.  Shockingly, I had never played a sport in my life.  Circa 1991, it was the classic spandex under the wind shorts fashion era.  At least I looked good, right?   So intimidating!   After about two games, the coach pulled me aside and said, “Bartoo, this is your new goal: you have to be more aggressive,  you must foul at least two times per game from now on.”  (OR ELSE!!)

Did he realize what he was asking?  This was serious business.  Even the coach’s wife wore big basketball-shaped earrings. These folks were intense and now, I was all sweaty palms.  My status with the YMCA girls basketball team was on the line here. Anxiety was rising.

The first time I tried to foul, it didn’t work.  It was awful and awkward.  I think I even apologized, which sent my coaches face to his hands.  I hated it and I wanted to quit!  Can we say personal space? (which ironic, because now, I’m a dental hygienist.)  Glad to say, my game improved, thanks to that extremely patient coach.  I probably shaved years off his life for all my fumbling.  Fouling was never easy and it still isn’t.

The big but:  one of the best life experiences EVER!  Not because of the game but what it yielded– When I’m afraid of big and lofty goals, shy of really awesome people, or frazzled by life- I remind myself that it’s OK to foul.  It’s OK to be aggressive and work at it. It’s a beautiful thing to think outside the box.  Even if “it” fails.  Even if “I” fail.

Great lesson indeed.  Go for it. (You may be surprised.)  At the least, you will gain a great education-

*hello awesome quote from -Biff, Back to the Future III


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