Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I use to be a Hooker

When I was 16 I started playing the most glorious sport in the world - rugby. Pardon me while I wax poetic for a moment. Rugby has the endurance and pace of soccer, the brutality of football, and the agility of basketball. It is all things that are good. It is wonderful.

Not to mention that if you are the All Blacks you start every game with aggressive dancing. Dancing in short shorts and it's scary as all get out? Only in rugby. (I'm in no way making fun of the haka, i think it's awesome)

Every day I drive past one of our old practice fields from high school on my way to work (I also played in college, but Waco is not part of my daily drive) and this morning, as I basked in the glory of the good old days, I realized that rugby and graduate school have a lot in common.

1. It does permanent damage.

Rugby:

I sustained a significant amount of injuries playing rugby, which gives me deep sympathy for Wes 'Crazy Eyes' Welker. During a neurological exam the following conversation happened:

"Have you ever had a concussion?" - Doctor

"Yes, from rugby." - Me

"Your right shoulder is significantly separated." - Doctor

"Yeah, that was rugby too. It was brutal." - Me

"Wow, what caused the compartment syndrome in your leg." - Doctor

"I don't want to say. Fine. Rugby. Again." - Me

"Huh. Did your parents hate you and show it by letting you play?" - Doctor

Graduate school:

"Have you gained weight? Wow, where did those dark circles from? Do you ever bathe anymore? Is that a bald patch?!" - Others

"Yeah, graduate school. It's brutal." - Me

2. Just when you've got the hang of it, the rules change.

Rugby:

Most of my first year was spent playing the position of Prop.  A Prop is on the edge of the scrum, and your job is to hold it up, ram into the other team, and support the Hooker in trying to steal the ball from the other team with only their feet. It is glorious grunt work.

One day, in the middle of a game, I was scampering onto the field after shoving Vaseline up my nose to stop the bleeding (you haven't lived until you've tried running with a mouth guard and a nose full of petroleum jelly) when my coach yelled after me , "by the way you are playing Hooker*." I stopped running so abruptly that my dad said I looked like a cartoon character.

*Despite my concern of playing a position I had never even practiced, I ended up loving playing Hooker and played that position more often than Prop. Forget being a grunt, give me brutal finesse any day!


This is a scrum. #3 on the white side is a Prop, #2 is the Hooker (it looks similar, it's not)

Graduate school:

"Write in APA. Now in Turabian. Five points off for indenting instead of using five spaces. Five points off for using five spaces instead of indenting. Great job, you really nailed this paper!" Huh? How? What do you want from me??

3. You get to know your teammates better than you ever wanted to.

Rugby:

Look at the above picture. Take it in. When you play rugby,especially as part of the tight five, you get incredibly close to other people - literally. And let me tell you, it can get stinky. So stinky. Yeuchhhh.

Graduate school:

The things I've heard in school. It gets stinky. So stinky. Yeuchhhh.

"Thanks for your vulnerability, but I don't think the class needed to know that you have those kinds of feelings for your bunny slippers."

4. A significant amount of shit is involved.

Rugby:

One day (and many subsequent days) during my first season our practice field was covered in fresh snow. Now our field was not maintained by the school, because we weren't a sanctioned sport. This meant that our field was also covered in goose poop. Lots and lots and lots of poop. Covered in wet snow. Mud, poop, snow. Awesome. We stood in a huddle before practicing bemoaning the fact we would probably have to get really wet and cold during practice, but hoping it could be avoided. Our coach marched out, took one look at the field, heard one bit of our complaining, and told us to run and slide around in it until we were ready to actually practice without being big whiny babies.

I quickly learned that after games and practices in conditions like that, I would get so gross that my mom would make me strip down outside before she let me in the house.

Graduate school:

"Write a paper about your brokenness. Now one about the brokenness of your brokenness. And maybe one on the brokenness of the brokenness of the brokenness. Tell me about how that makes you feel. No really, how you really feel. Really role around in it. Like you mean it!"

Maybe I should invent a hose that can wash of emotional goose poop.

5. It might make me a better person. 

I will never forget the worst game of my life. It was blizzarding and in response to asking if we could wear our sweatshirts under our jerseys the referee said, "what are you, soccer players?!' (I have no problem with soccer as it is my husband's true love, but that is not totally true for all rugby players). We were running around aimlessly, unable to see other players, let alone the try line. When you get tackled into ground that is frozen solid you find the will to get up abandoning quickly. We all cried. Every single player. And we were a tough bunch. AWFUL.

But, it is one of my favorite games to think back on. I didn't know I could dig that deep, I didn't know I could keep getting up again and again and again in a blizzard and keep playing. I didn't know I could play through the tears. And, the big thing, no game was ever that bad again. And, all the goose poop was frozen!

Graduate school is making me dig deep. Real deep. Deeper than I thought was possible. I know I can keep going through the tears. I will keep getting up again and again and again in the blizzard of clients, assignments, self-reflection, and analysis. I'll know that things can only go up.

And at least the poop is frozen.

Bunch of aholes. 
via; via; via

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