I always hated group work.
Mainly because I never trusted anyone else to hold up their end.
Or that their end would be as good as if I had done it alone.
So, in high school, everyone wanted to be in my group.
Because they knew they wouldn’t have to do a thing.
I would do all of it.
Unfortunately, this trait carried over into my sports life.
Particularly in college.
And my stubborn refusal to trust in others earned me at least one semester a year on crutches (or in a sling).
Yes, you read that correctly.
Crutches. Or a sling. One semester. Per year.
Residence hall league.
I was on two separate teams.
An all girl’s team and a mixed team.
The all girl’s team was a disaster.
Mainly because three of us desperately wanted to play - because we loved volleyball.
But the girl’s in our small dorm weren’t very athletic.
Well, that’s a lie.
Some were, but they were the girly athletic type.
If the activity included hurkies and basket catches, they were all for it.
But if a ball was coming at them . . . holy buddha, it was Apocalypse Now.
Duck and cover, ladies, duck and cover.
I had no use for these types of girls, normally.
Jayzus, it’s a ball, hit it.
But . . . we needed a team.
And the good thing about really girly girls is that they tend to be joiners.
Intramural sports activity = social gathering = opportunity to meet males.
Which was fine with me.
I knew Clarissa, Laura and I could handle the ball.
We just had to really watch our formation.
And run like hell if the ball went anywhere near . .
Uh, to protect the somewhat innocent, we’ll call them Buffy, Muffy and Miffy.
Miracle of miracles, we make it to playoffs.
I think I lost 15 lbs running for the ball.
So it was a win-win kinda situation.
Anyway, I digress (per usual, eh?).
Where was I??
2nd game of the third set.
The ball heads straight toward . . . Miffy.
Miffy might as well be called Daria.
You guys remember that MTV cartoon?
Where in the opening credits, the volleyball hits directly in front of her feet, bounces away and THEN she balls her fists together and acts like she was trying to hit it?
Delayed Reaction Girl.
About 3 seconds after the ball had already hit the ground, she would aim.
Where do these girls come from?
So I call it as it’s coming over the net.
And run at TOP. DAMN. SPEED. for the ball.
And for whatever friggin reason, Miffy goes all Robyn Ahmow-Santos (women’s Olympic volleyball team member - 2004 to . . uhhh) and starts actually trying to go for it.
Ummm, right, like I’m gonna let that happen when I don’t think she’s ever even touched the ball except for the three times she’s magnificently screwed up her turns to serve.
So, you can imagine what happened.
(Theme music here is Powerman 5000 - When Worlds Collide)
We both go down like a load of bricks.
And I hear something in my ankle go SNAP.
Oh holy hell.
Now, a smart girl would have gingerly limped to the sidelines.
Letting the alternate - we’ll call her Biffy - come in.
But I never claimed to be smart.
Competitive, oh yeah, smart, not so much.
Plus, I had Clarissa egging me on “Jayzus, Brittany, walk that shit off, get up!”
So . . I do - brilliant, eh?
I finish this game.
I finish the third game.
And do I think “Hmm, you should stop playing now.”
No, I think “WOW! Second bracket, 3 games here, easy peasy and then hit third bracket, another 3 games, and then fourth, 3 games and we win. Dude, 9 more games? I got this!”
And I sure did.
We won the tournament.
And I limped back to the dorm, high on accomplishment.
But I sure as crap didn’t wake up high on accomplishment.
“OH . . . UH . . . OUCH!”
I’m pretty sure those were the exact words I woke up with at around 6 AM.
Kasi, my roommate, looked up from her bed:
“What the fu** is your problem?”
I lifted my leg into her line of vision.
“OH!!! That can’t be good.”
From the bottom of my heel to about the middle of my calf, my leg was a mottling of colors:
Purple, black, red.
And my normally shapely leg . . . well, jeez, let’s just say my ankle was about three times it’s normal size.
In fact, from the middle of my calf to my heel, my leg was swollen as big as my thigh.
“What the hell did you do???”
“Umm, yeah, so we won the intramural volleyball tournament - girls division last night.”
“And the other team jumped you afterwards?”
“Uh, no, I think something snapped in my ankle in the first game.”
“And knowing you - you played every game afterwards.”
We got the guys to carry me to student health.
Yeah, crutches for 12 weeks.
Did this teach me my lesson?
Oh no no no no no.
Competitive, not smart, remember?
I won’t go through all the stories.
Just know that each year there was some other idiot egging me on.
2000 - Softball - Co-Rec - Dylan Chambers - “I don’t give a shit if your knee’s all out broken! By god, this is the championship and we’re only in the second inning! Get your ass back behind that plate, stop your whining and be our catcher! Jesus, when did you turn into one of THOSE girls???” . . . . 12 weeks on crutches. But we won.
2001 - Flag Football - Co-Rec - Jason Pyle - “Brittany! You’re not quitting!! HOLY GOD! You’re the only girl on the team that can actually PLAY! I think you’re the only one who knows what a football really is!!! It’s not dislocated! Get in there!” . . . . shoulder dislocation - 12 weeks in a sling. But we won.
2002 - Tennis - Yes, tennis damnit - doubles tournament - Kelly Hart - “OMG! We’re going to win and you want to stop???? What do you mean your ankle hurts!??!! Is it broken??? We’ve only got 2 more sets!” - 12 weeks on crutches. But we won.
And the list continues.
And after college did I learn?
2004 - White Water Rafting - Olympic course on the Ocoee River in North Carolina/Tennessee.
Class 5 rapid tumps us, and I’m hunkered down but Reed isn’t. 250 lb, 6'4" man slams me sideways, legs still firmly held in the raft, upper body slammed against the large ass boulder that caused us to tump.
Ouch, my shoulder really hurts.
But all the other girls on the trip (and by all the other, I mean the TWO that came with us (12 guys, 3 girls) had bailed two days ago.
No way was I letting girls go down like that.
I rowed my ass off for two more days.
In fact, the last day, it got hot enough to strip the wet suit down to our tank tops when we were carrying the raft back to the Suburban.
Brian’s behind me and screams:
“JESUS H MARY MOTHER OF CHRIST!!! Brittany, have you seen your back?!????!!!” Ummm . .. Do I appear to have eyes in the back of my head?
Have you seen any full length mirrors in our tents???
Turns out that from my clavicle to the small of my back I was black, blue, purple, green and yellow.
This explains why I’ve been sleeping on my stomach for the past two nights.
Competitive, not smart.