A good teammate

I was terrified of Karen. My fear of her went back to the fourth grade, when she would pick on me in the minutes before elementary school began, as we waited for the doors to open. When those doors finally opened each morning, it was a relief. I could finally escape Karen’s fifth-grade taunting.
Six years later, I tried out for the field hockey team at Broadneck. Karen had become one of the area’s more accomplished field hockey and lacrosse players, and had already been elected a captain of the varsity team.
Oh, no, I thought, strapping on my goalie pads, Karen’s going to make my life hell again.
The complete opposite happened. While Karen ran with the “in crowd” at school – she dated the quarterback and drove a hot sports car, always seemed to be going to the best weekend parties and had the best seat at the prime table in the cafeteria – she somehow was able to transcend that part of her high school life when we went to the hockey field.
We had gotten older and were contributing to a common cause as part of a team. Karen saw some sort of importance in each of her teammates, and some sort of value in them.
Karen treated her teammates with respect. Karen worked her ass off. Karen talked to everyone and told us something encouraging.
Karen became a junior college All-American and earned a scholarship to play lacrosse at Towson University. Then she became a coach. And a wife. And a mother. And waited tables. And did wedding planning. Then decided to try something new.
Karen recently stepped down as the head lacrosse coach at the high school from which we graduated. She won three state championships and has helped countless girls go to college and play college lacrosse, and probably has helped young women think about more than just lacrosse.
The notes people left on her Facebook page were touching. Former classmates of ours congratulated her on her successes and supported her choice to step down in order to take care of her family.
Former players of hers thanked them for her wisdom and guidance. I thanked her for being a fantastic teammate.
I like to joke sometimes that “You can take the girl out of Broadneck … oh, no, wait, you can’t take the girl out of Broadneck.”
When I find out my former classmates are making a positive impact and positive contributions to the community that helped shape us, I’m proud to say they were the people who made an impression upon me years ago as classmates and teammates.
Twenty years ago, there weren’t a lot of those people. Karen, however, was definitely one of them.

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One thought on “A good teammate

  1. this post really resonated with me – similarly to this, i was actually just talking yesterday about how awesome it is for me (as a teacher) to see former students who grow in to genuinely mature, caring women and men – it’s an incredible reward, to say the least…

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