Matt Suoja: Looking back on the ups and downs of a sports career
For the most part, I have always had fun playing sports. Even though my teams didn't always win, I still loved playing in sporting competitions. Sure, I remember being on the wrong end of some tough losses. I remember them because the game I play...
For the most part, I have always had fun playing sports. Even though my teams didn't always win, I still loved playing in sporting competitions.
Sure, I remember being on the wrong end of some tough losses.
I remember them because the game I played was fun.
Throughout middle school and grade school, I played baseball and basketball. The teams suffered some heartbreaking losses, but it doesn't mean those moments were not enjoyable.
In either seventh or eighth grade, my baseball team was in a close, but high scoring affair. I don't think this is uncommon at this level of play. We ended up losing the game by a score of 11-10.
The reason I remember this game so vividly is because a player on our team screwed up ... big time. Instead of scoring the game-tying run, he stepped over home plate.
Another reason I remember the game is because it was fun.
OK, the main reason I remember it is because I was the one who didn't touch home plate.
This event didn't stop me from playing the game of baseball. No one ridiculed me or told me how stupid I was (except for myself).
I can look back on it now and laugh. I wish I could have done it at the time it happened, but I was too upset.
Another less-than-desirable sports memory I had came in basketball. Once again, I was in either seventh or eighth grade. For the life of me, I couldn't make a shot. I was missing lay-ups, three-pointers (yes, even though I couldn't make a lay-up I still put up some shots from the outside) and I believe I missed four free throws.
I even remember my final shot of the game. I shot another brick from the outside (to this day I know I was fouled) as the buzzer went off. My coach even told the referee I was fouled. He wanted me to get some free throws at the end of the game, hoping I could score at least one point after all of the effort I put forth.
That game was so much fun, however. I couldn't believe how many shots I got up. I didn't get a lot of playing time back then, obviously, but for some reason the coach played me a lot that day.
After middle and grade-school athletics, I joined the ranks of high school sports. The only sport I played in high school was baseball. My true love.
When writing this, however, I don't recall a lot of good or funny moments from high school baseball. It's not like our team was terrible. Maybe I don't remember because the coach took the fun out of the sport.
The only memories I have are either getting yelled at, complained about or having the same thing happen to a friend.
I'm sure some of the other players on the team had fond memories. The great players, most likely.
One of the strongest memories I have from my high school baseball career doesn't deal with a game, but practice.
I remember (this time it wasn't me) a friend of mine in the batting cage missed every single ball.
Did the coach show him what he was doing wrong, or come over and help him? No. All he said was "Next." (Meaning he wanted someone else in the batting cage.) Maybe he forgot that "coach" is also a verb.
In the earlier years, I can remember my mistakes and smile. I can remember my mistakes from high school too, but I can't look back on them and laugh.
A good coach should make a lasting impression on the players. A positive one. Sadly, this wasn't the case for me in high school sports.
Matt Suoja is a reporter with the Budgeteer News. He can be reached at 723-1207 or e-mailed at email@example.com .