Friday, August 3, 2012
a discussion lit a fire in me today about what a "True Athlete" is and thinking back on the discussion I wondered if this person thought because of where I allowed myself to get in my life... Out of shape, not doing anything athletic for the last 15 years of my life if secretly they thought I had never done anything athletic or even had a clue as to what an athlete was. I secretly wondered myself...had I ever been an athlete? Could I become an athlete at this age? What is even the true definition of an athlete or for that matter a "True Athlete"? So I decided to first look for definitions Athlete:1 A person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise. 2. A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts. The majority of things I see listed do not take into account dancers. So here has been what has been rattling around in my brain... What is a True Athlete and what makes them a true athlete? I am not going to answer this question but ask you to answer it! I have read many articles this morning and many blogs wondering just what the definition might be. I was livid when I thought that someone assumed that I had never been or never could be a true athlete. Notice I said assumed they thought. They never stated it and so I realized that I was livid at myself because I must NOT be showing qualities of an athlete and maybe they are right. So here is my journey. Is it athletic? I am still not sure! My life at 4 years old began with Ballet. I took Ballet for 8 years. During the last 4-5 years of Ballet I was dancing almost every day taking back to back classes of bar work, floor work, across the floors, Pointe classes, Modern. Outside of Ballet I would use the back of a dining room chair as a bar to work on my foot work and I would relax at night by stretching after a hot bath in front of the T.V. I lived Ballet for years. I drove hours to rehearsals for the Delta Ballet Nutcracker rehearsals. I had no life outside of ballet. Were there trophies? No, but I did receive a recognition by the times picayune. The Times had come out to Slidell to do a piece on the Delta Ballet's school they had opened on the north shore. They took pictures of all the girls as we practiced. Secretly I thought it would be one of the three tiniest girls in the class I had most envied for their structure of their bodies. I was constantly on a diet for my art. When I flipped through the Times Picayune one morning I saw my picture as I was being instructed on bar work and I gaped. I looked at myself for the first time and saw I was beautiful. the teacher's hands were lightly framing my face tilting it to the side as my whole body was elongated through a Grande Plie. Under the picture was the caption. "Ballerina to be Lorraine Slaughter receives instruction from Delta Ballet's Joseph Jacobi" This was my trophy. I did not do Ballet for a trophy... does anyone do their sport for a prize. I did Ballet because I felt I could not breath apart from it. It was apart of me and in every pore of my body. Ballet did take it's tole and my parents made me quit due to their concern that I had no life outside of Ballet and it had become at times more tears than smiles. They did not want their 13 year old daughter thinking this was all of life. I tried filling in the hole Ballet left. I tried Gymnastics for several years but it was not the same for me. I tried Soccer and was rather late starting it compared to the other girls that had already been playing. Once again with Soccer I put in everything I had. I practiced hard even though I was out of breath and always behind on running drills I never stopped. I warmed the bench most of the time but I was always yelling and pulling for my team. I would go over to other girls houses and practice drills with them as they would try to help me catch up on my game. I loved it but I knew I would never be scholarship material or a true competitor in the world of soccer. While doing Soccer in high school I was able to also do marching band. I know... not athletic right. High school marching band and most marching bands are not. I was a flag girl for 3 years in high school. I attended camp after camp after camp all on my own. I choreographed all of the flag work my senior year and our winter guard show. I spent hours working on Jazz runs and underbody dance work and countless hours spinning and practicing flag moves that believe me would kill most peoples arms. In college I was able to take this to the next level with getting to march in a competitive Drum and Bugle corp all summer long. We ate, drank and slept Drum corp. We started every day with stretches and running and then ate a prescribed meal then went out to run drills over and over again for hours, then pieced together our show running it over and over until it was time to eat lunch. Then we would run the show again and again. Each mistake you made you dropped and did pushups and then did that section over and over again as to not make the mistake again. One might think I was insane for loving it but it was the closest I had gotten to my days in ballet. I was able to dive into it and lose myself. I pushed through pain and fatigue that summer in a way that only a true athlete could. I came back from that summer in the best shape of my life. My quads were ripped and my arms were killer and my abs were cut. I was the happiest I had been in so long. I tried to keep it up after coming home from Drum Corp with running and working out. I did not feel any passion for just working out alone. Not enough fire to make me want to keep going running or even cycling. I got married, started teaching, had two kids, still nothing. Nothing athletic to fill the void. Then I found Roller derby. If my coach said you need to work on wall squats outside of practice I did it and am still doing it. I am still not where I should be. If my coach said I needed to go to as many practices as I could I did. I worried about being gone so long from my coach this summer when I was on the road. I promised myself and to my team mates I would come back stronger and would find a way to work on my roller derby while I was gone for a month. I found teams to skate with as I traveled, I found the gym, I found the hotel room floor for core work and I came back leaner and stronger. I admit I lost a lot of my endurance while I was gone because most of the groups I worked with did not work on endurance. Now that I am home and my practices have dwindled down to two possible practices a week my heart has sunk a little. I lived for 3 a week and even then I wanted more. So it is time to go it on my own for myself and my team. So when I think about what people see of me and what they may think because of my size and not knowing my background I am sure they think I have never been an athlete and maybe I haven't been according to their definition but as one of my favorite quotes from one of my all time favorite movies the Cutting Edge..."No one tells me what I can and can not do!" I may not be an athlete yet and I may never have been an athlete according to some peoples definition but I sure as heck am going to give it all I have. So what is your definition of an "True Athlete" What are you willing to sacrifice for the love of the game? No matter what anyone else thinks... Derby is my passion now and I am glad to have found it! I may end up a bench warmer since I am coming into it at 36 years old but you will not catch me wasting anyones time by not trying my damnedest!