The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 43

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,

my family's life has been effectively canceled.
Why? Because ours is the Sports Life. For nearly two decades now,
we've been doing Sports Life. Now, with an abruptness that still feels
like a head-on collision, Sports Life is gone.
Twenty years! How does this happen?
It starts with soccer. On a cold Saturday morning at 9 a.m. I am
dragging my three small children out to a set of soccer fields so our
four-year-old can play (Tony, my husband who signed our son up
is, of course, working).
I park along the side of the road at the end of a long line of cars.
Looking like a loaded down donkey, I walk at least three soccer
fields' distance searching for the right match of shirt color to kidsize. Eventually I locate the right littles, only to realize I've left the
soccer ball in the car. I walk the three soccer fields back-toddler and
infant in tow, constantly maneuvering the toddler away from the
road. Halfway back with the ball, the baby needs a diaper change.
Immediately. The toddler is determined to play in the road, and I
realize I am out of diapers.
There are tears at the end of this morning. Mostly mine. And while
my 28-year-old self doesn't know it yet, I have officially entered the
Sports Life.
I readily admit having a love-hate relationship with my Sports
Life. Tony, on the other hand, was born as the very embodiment of
it. As one might expect, his own unadulterated love of Sports Life
has often exacerbated my hate.
Not only did Tony sign our children up for sports with vigor
and of his own accord, he'd sign himself up to coach, too. This
automatically signed me up for " team mom " and sometimes even
stand-in coach, running practices and the occasional game when he
couldn't get off work. Thinking back on these moments - me on the
sidelines with a clipboard in my hands and Tony's coaching t-shirt
on - a word comes to mind: Absurd.
Another word that readily comes to mind when I consider my
Sports Life is heartbreaking. Like the U-10 World Series game we
lost in the final inning when my three kids collided trying to catch
the same pop fly. Or, watching my oldest son's high school football
team lose in the final seconds of their playoff game his senior year.
Or, watching any loss in any wrestling tournament. Period.
The Sports Life is complicated. For every heartbreaking moment
there are equally powerful transcendent moments and moments of
pride. They often happen at the same time. Like when my second
son, in middle school at the time, stayed in a 100-meter hurdle race
with hurdles mistakenly set too high. He made it over two hurdles.
Then his front foot caught the third hurdle. His back foot caught

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the next. It was awful. But he stayed in and finished, well after the
others. He crossed the finish line and walked straight toward me.
His back was ramrod straight, his palms and knees all bloodied. I
knew he was utterly humiliated.
" Isaac, I'm so sorry, " I said, positioning myself between him and
the crowds. " Those hurdles were set too high. "
" Yeah, I know, " he said, hiding himself and trying not to cry. " But
I couldn't quit. You're always telling us to finish what we start. "
Would I have ever heard those words if I didn't live the Sports
Life?
It makes me wonder: What other good things have I been granted
by this Sports Life?
In its absence, the answer has become glaring and clear: my
community.
Without my Sports Life community, life is dull. In the mornings,
instead of chatter - listening to Tony and my son, Sam, discuss
the upcoming game, pour over the opposing team's stats and Sam's
pitching strategy - there is only silence. Instead of filling the summer
calendar with summer camps and pre-season football events, the
squares remain empty.
There is no daily texting with parents over delivering meals
or working the concession stand. There are no evenings spent on
bleachers engaged in easy conversation between innings and plays.
There's no after game recapping in the parking lot, or at home with
Tony on the back deck, usually over a glass of wine.
Instead, my family sits around the dinner table and my kids rehash their at-home training sessions with their dad. Then we talk
around, but never about, the one thing we're all quietly wondering:
What if sports don't come back this fall? No cross country season.
No Friday nights under the lights. No final season of college football
for my oldest son.
Heartbreaking comes to mind again. But, even this word doesn't
seem to do the loss justice.	
Every heartbreak, transcendence and swelling of pride has
happened in and through and because of Sports Life. It happens in
fist bumps and cowbells. In side hugs and high fives. It's forged in
whispered prayers, meals served and banquets planned. It's in every
moment of us cheering on our kids, and not me cheering on mine.
All these things done over and over until eventually we grow into
something greater than ourselves. We grow into community. This
community is why my family calls Roanoke home.
Of all the things my Sports Life is, it is most of all a gift. And I
miss it. I'm so tired of " me. " I cannot wait to be " us " again. I

JULY/AUGUST 2020 43


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The Roanoker - July/August 2020

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The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 3
The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 4
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The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover3
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