“LAURA! Go in for Samantha!”
I heard from the far away end of the bench.
“YES. You’re in for Sam. Go! Hurry!”
Oh my goodness. This was it. I was about to play in my first volleyball game at school. And it was a big deal. I was a 7th grader, and 7th graders didn’t usually get to play in games. All of a sudden I couldn’t hear anything. I got my game face on and zoned out. I ran onto the court.
Tweet tweet tweeeeeet
I pulled my stiff, white kneepads up and tightened my ponytail…
…pushed up my headband, and checked to see if my still blister-causing shoes were tied.
Tweet tweet tweeeeeet! Tweeeeeet L-A-U-R-AAAA LAURA!
Slowly the world came back.
“LAURA, YOU HAVE TO CHECK IN BEFORE YOU SUB FOR SOMEONE.”
Oh yeah, oops. Good job, Laura. Let’s make a fool out of ourselves before the play even starts.
“14 for 10, go,” the ref said as he scribbled in his notebook.
I took my position in the back right corner of the court. It was the opposing team’s turn to serve.
“Let’s go Warriors!” Our home crowd cheered as they beat on the bleacher seats and whistled.
Why is their server looking at me. Please stop looking at me.
Tweeeeet. The ref’s arm motioned for the serve. The gym grew silent.
All right, here we go. Holy cow. Why does that ball looks like it’s coming right toward me. Okay, I need you to curve. Okay, you don’t want to curve? I see how it is. Okay Laura, you got this. Knees bent, hands together, thumbs parallel. Here it comes. Here it comes.
I swung my arms up to meet the ball. I made contact. Or rather, the ball made contact with my face.
Whereas before the sounds had faded from my excitement, now it seemed like everyone in the crowd was wearing a microphone, and I could hear every single word.
“Awww, poor little girl!”
“Bless her heart. How embarrassing.”
“*Gasp* I hope her nose isn’t broken.”
“And that’s why you don’t play 7th graders, Coach.”
The words stung me so much I didn’t even feel the sting pulsating through my face. My coach subbed me out. I went back to my spot at the end of the bench and buried my head in my hands. It was the most embarrassing day of my young life. Since then I’ve learned that embarrassing things only stay embarrassing for a little while, and after that they just become funny memories.