Just looking at those badges brought me back to horrors of grade school gym classes. I was the skinny, nerdy kid who sucked at sports, so much that I constantly made up excuses to miss track and field day, to no avail, as I never missed one day of school from Kindergarten to Grade 11.
All the ‘Alpha Kids’ were there, raving how they would take the top awards. All I wanted was a bronze medal. For years I was forced to compete in those events, only to receive just the plastic participaction pin at the end of every event.
The only ‘good’ memory I have of Track and Field Day was in Grade 7, which took place the first day of school. I had taken a big growth spurt that summer, and when returning to school, I was the tallest kid in my grade. This would be my big chance to take home a medal.
I still remember that day. The gym teacher lined us up across the playground behind the school, I scanned my competition, a bunch of kids I had lost to every year since the event began; a crowd of kids shorter than me. I really believed I had a chance to take home my first medal. This day was like a dream to me. Finally, a medal. I didn’t care which one I won, most kids tried for the Gold, Silver, or the Award of Excellence, not me though, I would have taken any of them.
I envisioned my mom proudly sewing the badge on my best coat, brimming with pride, and me strolling into school, the envy of all the kids, showing off my beautiful bronze patch.
When the gym teacher hollered GO, we tore across the grassy field, headed for the finish line. I was actually ahead of everyone, a good twenty feet ahead of the second place kid, when I thought I heard something in the distance, a voice, yelling “Watch out Teddy, Watch out for the ….”
All I heard was Teddy Teddy…I thought it was my friends cheering me on.
Of course I ignored all this, as I was too focused on winning a medal. I held my head high, looking forward to the finish line. I was there, nobody near me, just the wind in my face, and the ground beneath my sneakers, I could taste victory and it was good. I was going to win my first prize ever in track and field; when all of a sudden I brought up solid into a…
German Shepherd. That darn dog from across the street was always wandering around the school yard. I ran right into him, and landed face down on the ground. The other kids ran around the dog, who was now licking my face; and while I licked my wounds, I realized I would never win the event, never have that precious medal sewn to my favourite jacket. I knew eventually the other kids would grow to my height, and beat me in the races. It took me a while to get up, but when I did, I seen the three kids who were behind me proudly line up for their awards. The gym teacher rushed to my aid, and handed me my Participaction Pin.
I was at a yard sale once, a few years back, when I came upon a treasure. No, not the gigantic bag of very desirable marbles, but something even better. A large box, labeled Participaction Track and Field Awards, and guess what? The box was filled with hundreds of medals, everything from the Award of Excellence, Gold, Silver, to the Bronze medal. There were also bags and bags of Participaction pins. I was in my glee. Now if I only had a time machine, I could go back in time, get Mom to fill my jacket with those medals, to the point the entire jacket would be made up of just medals, and I would be the most popular eight grader in the entire school. Oh to dream.