I don’t know about you but I consider “Most Improved” awards to be a back-handed diss…. “You really sucked before but you’re not half bad now.” In middle school I played soccer. Not by choice, of course. Also like how rowing crew in high school, the swim team and piano practice at 6:00 am were not by choice. At that age if I had my choice I would have been content sewing new outfits for my American Girl dolls or a new Amish outfit for myself (Amish story is forthcoming in a blog post).
So anyways, I played soccer throughout middle school. I’m pretty sure my goal while on the field was to stay as far away from the ball as possible. It worked really well and by the end of 8th grade I thought I had made it through the worst. At the end of that school year we had the annual sports awards. My parents were in attendance but I was sitting with my “boyfriend” rocking a very awkward haircut (another forthcoming blog post) and at least 4 pounds of metal in my mouth (including a contraption that had to be implanted through oral surgery which attached a chain to a tooth which was compacted up near my brain and through a pulley type system was pulled through the gums). I was pretty much rockin’ it that night.
They handed out all the normal awards, sportsmanship award, most valuable player (which was always my sister), etc. Then the time came for Most Improved. The coach began talking and his speech went something like this. “At the beginning of the season, well, quite frankly, I didn’t quite no what to do with this person, but she turned out to not be half bad.” I remember thinking how embarrassing it was going to be for who ever got that award. “And the most improved award goes to…. JULIE DANIEL.”
At that point things kind of went blurry and in slow motion. I remember just wanting to disappear into a black hole. I hate being the center of attention more than anything in the world and to be singled out with the loser of the season award, in front of my hot middle school boyfriend no less. Then came the walk of shame to the podium and the pitied looks of people in the audience. I remember my step-mom telling me that she was thinking how horrified I was at that moment when I was walking up. She was right.