The other week my sister drove us by the remodeled Mountlake Terrace Elementary. I eyed it from the passenger seat of her ride, a Nissan Rogue named Rosa. I attended the closing event for past students a summer or two ago.
My mind drifted off to Memory Lane as it usually does to reminisce. Facebook has a similar Memories feature. One that narrative that circulates is the “kids these days will …” and then the user fills in the blank.
One entry is the follow the red rubber ball featured in the popular school game: Dodgeball!
Not Gym Class Hero
One fateful day in gym class at MLT Elementary the physical education teacher set up a game of dodgeball. In the 1980’s this game was not deemed dangerous in any way, shape or form. If you’re unfamiliar with the game because it’s been outlawed, and you haven’t watched the film, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story …
The objective of dodgeball is to eliminate all players of the opposing team by throwing one of four game balls and hitting the opposing player below the shoulders on the fly. Each team starts with ONE (1) ball and then there are TWO (2) balls evenly spread on the center line at the beginning of each game.
The game started so chaos ensued! Fifteen children from each side bull rushed the center with all the rubber balls ready to be picked up and thrown. The balls start to fly, kids get pegged thereby eliminated from play.
It was down to two players: myself versus a girl.
She threw the nearest ball to her at me, which I parried away with the ball in my hands. She and I spied that the nearest ball for her to toss at me was several feet away. She sprinted towards it, I rushed the centerline to close the gap of distance and to increase my accuracy – no head shots!
I raise my hand and arm like a pitcher, I lead my target’s path, and I let it loose. Everyone in the gym watched as this red rubber missile streaks towards her. I aimed for her legs to target her knees, one of the hardest parts of her body, and it was safe.
Then in a millisecond, because of the way it was thrown by me, it drastically curves up … she must’ve sensed it because she looked up in time for it to connect with her face.
NO, NO, NO! I mentally screamed.
She’s uncleated from the place of impact, like a table top crashes to the hardwood gym floor. This is a scene literally out of America’s Funniest Home Videos, except no one’s laughing.
I ran over to her side, with the teacher, and student on my heels. She was momentarily unconscious. As I check on her, I apologize on the brink of tears, the teacher pulls me away. She barked, “Go to the Principal Tilla’s office, NOW!”
As I casually walked away, the other kids mean mugged me for destroying a little girl. It was not intentional but it was viewed as malicious. They followed the red rubber ball alright.
Poor girl probably has PTSD from the sight of one of those things. Perhaps it’s best that game is not played by little kids anymore.