And now I give you one of the most embarrassing photos of myself on file.
Here I am. Twelve years old. Fresh into my seventh grade year, first year out of country school. First year in a real sport. Trying my hand at volleyball, but apparently not trying my hand at ironing my wrinkled shorts that are pulled up way beyond my bellybutton, barely able to contain the size Large shirt I was given.
Where are my arms?
I don’t know.
Where are my braces?
Coming next year.
Where was my talent for sending a ball over the net, at least once or twice a game?
But you can’t blame me for trying. Growing up is all about finding out what you like and what you’re good at, and unfortunately, sometimes, they don’t go hand in hand.
For example, I liked wearing leotards…
But I was no good at dancing.
You know who was?
That little California Raisin doing jazz hands to the left of me.
Yup, Big Sister was made to dance, as you can tell….
Thirty-some years later and she looks exactly the same…think she even still has those pants… could probably fit into them…
My spandex leotards, as you can see from the photographic evidence provided, didn’t stand a chance on me the first go ’round.
Yeah, the right sister is the dancer.
Because it turns out me, my long, gangly, noodle arms, lack of coordination or control over those limbs, my fear of floor-burning my entire body and my nonexistent competitive nature didn’t magically combine to create a phenomenal athlete.
But rest assured the athleticism in our family didn’t start and end with those jazz shoes. Because along came Little Sister.
There she is down there on my right, strangling our momma dog in a mischievous love embrace, hair wild, planning her next move…
And her next move was to get straight A’s, make sure everyone is being nice to everyone else, practice dribbling and shooting the basketball on the only slab of concrete on the entire ranch, make varsity and head to state basketball…then do it all over again during volleyball season.
Always working, always making plans that one.
Anyway, this year Little Sister, all grown up now, is at the beginning of her first year as a guidance counselor in our hometown’s elementary school and at the end of her first season as a junior high volleyball coach.
So last week Big Sister, Mom and I headed to the school, bought some popcorn at the concessions and went to watch her work and cheer on her team of Wolves.
And then I had a flashback…
Anyway, it was quite a proud moment for us and one we hadn’t seen on that woman since her days of hitting free throws and playing mean defense in high school.
We watch Big Sister put on dance recitals and my family comes to my concerts, but we haven’t had a chance to be spectators in Little Sister’s work life for years.
And she was good at it. So positive and encouraging. So adorable and official with her clipboard under her arm. I couldn’t help but think, watching those skinny seventh grade girls hit the ball back and forth over the net, that if I were them, I would have loved her as my coach…
We were so proud.
So that’s what I said here in my column this week. I wrote about why it matters in our town now, the town that’s bursting at the seams…why it matters that someone like Little Sister would find her calling here, chose to come back home with a big wide world out there ripe for the picking. The same big wide world that seems to be making their way here too, with their hopes and their plans and their volleyball playing children…
Coming Home: Little sis shaping kids’ future one volleyball game at a time
by Jessie Veeder
Coming Home, my weekly columns, appear in newspapers across the state, including the Fargo Forum, Bismarck Tribune, Dickinson Press and Grand Forks Herald.