A Throw

November 3, 2012
By , Peabody, MA
Standing on a wooden platform within the confines of a white circle, forbidden from letting so much as a single toe touch the board in front of me may seem like some sort of medieval entrapment. Add a heavy, sand-filled ball tucked under my chin, and the entrapment becomes a seemingly primitive but equally medieval sport. Now add movement and my body coils like a snake, ready to strike. I lock my legs into a crouch. A blink later I'm turning in the air, trying to stay control, while the ball is flying somewhere in front of me. The officials measure the distance. That's what my coaches, my team, and the few spectators see. What they never see though, is the liberation I feel when that ball leaves my fingers. When I throw, sometimes it feels like I'm moving in water. Every millimeter that I move feels like a new experience. It is one of those sports that hardly anybody knows. Only those who know of it can appreciate the power and the freedom that comes with shot putting. Only those who know me can appreciate how it changed me.

Freshman year, I thought that I would conquer high school, but by week two, my dream was shot to small, irreparable pieces. I auditioned or tried out for just about everything that fall and to my dismay and slight amusement, I didn't get into a single thing. I felt like I didn't belong anywhere and the next four years seemed like a long bleak road to nowhere. I sank into a deep hole and buried myself in school work to distract myself, until November, when I was asked to join the track team. Two months before I hadn't made any teams and here was a coach asking me, of all people, to join a one. Needless to say, I was hesitant. I've never liked making a fool of myself and I knew running wasn't my calling. Apparently throwing was.

I've never pushed myself like I did that season. My coaches kept telling me it wasn't a matter of being good, but of being there and trying. While I was there I gained two things I had lacked: confidence and self-respect. Eventually, I started walking with my head a little straighter and talking a little more. I stopped looking at the floor and started look people in the eye, which had a huge impact on how people treated me and how I treated myself. Shot putting has made me the young woman I am today. I know now that I have many admirable qualities. I can push myself and work hard to achieve my goals, I can hold a conversation and be a leader, and I can face any challenge with my head held high, because I know that I am strong. I can wake up in the morning and respect the great person I am and the amazing person I will become. Who knew I'd learn all that from throwing a ball?

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