Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Old School - Gym Class Edition

We were reminiscing at work about the good old days...gym class - the best hour of the day. Based on our discussions, here’s a few of the most memorable (good and bad) events in every child’s gym class. (Note: Dodgeball is not included, too easy. That’s an entire post by itself.)

6) Wrestling - Middle School: Weight classes were pretty much ignored. Especially with that one kids who matured earlier than everybody else. You know, the 6th grader with a full-grown beard. He went like 192 pounds and dominated pee-wee football. The next heaviest kid in class was like 161, which was unfortunate for him. But regardless of size, every weight class had the slow, stinky kid. You wanted no part of this guy. He smelled like a combination of drool, manure, and yesterdays lunch. And I'm supposed to wrestle this kid? Come on. Finally, there was the one kid who was a really good wrestler. In my class, it was (he might frequent this site) Ryan B. Not very big, but an excellent athlete - just took kids apart. On the last day, the teacher lined everybody up and we all got a chance at Ryan. It was like an assembly line, one after another. Kids who played the flute, math nerds, and the generally un-athletic all got their turn. The hopeless eventually just laid down as soon as stepping onto the mat. I managed to run in circles for a while, staying on the mat longer than most...and then succumbed to the inevitable. Pretty much everybody was excited to see the conclusion of wrestling in gym class.

5) Pickleball - High School - The other guys had no idea what I was talking about. Maybe it's a Port Washington thing. Basically, it's indoor tennis with a shorter net, an oversized ping-pong paddle and a whiffle ball. Good, no GREAT times! Matt and I were partners and rolled the competition until we met the gooniest set of doubles you could imagine. I'll save those details, but let's just say there wasn't an athletic bone in their bodies. Turns out, they were good. Really good. They revolutionized PWHS Pickleball by putting one player at the net and one on the baseline. We didn't know what to was like seeing the wishbone formation for the first time. I haven’t seen Pickleball since, but would like to…it was pretty damn fun.

4) The Mile - Middle School - It was an annual event. As soon as the teacher declared "We're running The Mile next Thursday," kids were scrambling for excuses not to run. Some would "forget" their sneakers, many became sick, and a few would even mysteriously develop asthma over the weekend. At the sound of the gun, a few groups would soon develop: A) The Pacesetters - The future high school cross country folk who enjoy running from Wisconsin to Idaho on a "light run." Don't even try to keep up with these freaks. B) The Nerds - They would sprint for the first 50 feet, just so they could say they were "winning" at some point...and then fizzle out. Yeah, they might get straight A's in the classroom, but somehow forget there's another 5,230 feet to go. C) Biggins. As soon as the whistle sounds, they walk. The entire way. Zero effort. They were the same group of girls who made a circle in right-center field during softball. You'd purposely hit the ball in that general direction just to watch them scatter. D) The Cheerio Gang. A bunch of zeros. Our running course went around the football field, weaved through some tennis courts, then back around the gridiron. Well, the Teacher couldn't see behind the tennis courts, which made for a perfect opportunity for a few guys to bust out the smokes and fire up a Camel. During the Mile Run! Hilarious! E) Everyone Else. This group was down to about 5 kids by the finish line.

3) Gymnastics - Middle School. The rings, pommel horse, balance beam, bars...yep, this was about as gay as you would imagine. That rope hanging from the ceiling always made for good comedy. Some kids couldn't move up that thing an inch. Check that, a milimeter. Some would scoot right up to the top without breaking a sweat, like they were part squirrel. The rest? They'd climb up about half way and get nervous. I have no idea why. That quarter-inch thick blue pad 15 feet below would certainly break your fall. Or not. To close out the gymnastics session, there was a test. Everybody had to do a routine in front of the entire class using three pieces of equipment of your choice. It was pure hell. Falling off the balance beam while trying a somersault is bad…but not as bad as crashing to the ground it in front of 75 fifth graders.

2) Floor Hockey - Middle/High School. This was fun. It was a pretty sweet gym class sport. Unless you had the crazy guy in your class. The rule was simple: NO SLAP SHOTS! The blade of your stick had to stay below your knees. Nothing but wristers, right. Tell that to crazyman. There were always a few guys who’d wind up that slappy well over his head and let it fly. No chance of those tiny plastic shin guards stopping that freight train. Obviously, there was NO CHECKING. It's co-ed for Pete's sake. One guy in particular, Steve, thought otherwise. I like Steve. Good guy, funny. But a little off kilter…Junior year he read Mein Kampf just for the hell of it. Give this guy a hockey stick and it was on. Our high school gymnasium had a number of doors leading right into a main hallway. For no reason whatsoever, Steve decides to do a seek and destroy mission on an unsuspecting girl named Jenny. The puck isn't even remotely close to her and our friend Steve cross-checks her right out one of the doors and into the hallway. Checks her clear out of the fucking gym! A few moments go by before the poor girl opens the door, stumbling back into the gym all weak-legged and starry-eyed with tears running down her face. A classic gym class moment indeed!

1) Square Dancing - Frosh Year High School: WTF was the point of this, except to create the most awkward experience of your adolescent life? It starts on day one when the oversized gym teacher says "OK, everybody pick a partner." Of course there's only one decent looking chick in the class, who’s snapped up faster than you can say "promenade." So you're stuck dancing awkwardly with some creature you'll never speak to the rest of your high school days. And it didn't help that my movements were as fluid as a Holstein with a bad leg. Good God, the horror! And who’s ever used these square dancing skills since? Didn’t think so.


Anonymous said...

classic post!

Goldy said...

We had pickleball in Racine as well. It was a good wintertime gym sport. Since I went to a Catholic school from first to eighth grade, our gym resources were somewhat limited. Crab-walk anyone? We played such exciting games as steel the bacon which I believed running across the mid court stripe of the basketball court and stealing a bean bag off of a cone without getting caught. We also had floor hockey. This worked well when you could "accidentally" check people into the space heaters that jutted out into the gym floor. The highlight was seeing the same 3 kids picked last in every sport all the way from first to eighth grade.

There it is, the Dagger said...

Ahh the memories.

Great stuff.

Further groups could include high schoolers who had sports practice later that day and refused to give an ounce of energy to anything other than running a pick and roll or 34 trap.

Also the ultra-competitive wrestler types, the ones who had so many F-ing medals on their letterman jackets that you thought the goddamn Budweiser Clydesdales were coming down the hall.

Those bastards gave it 500% in all sports.

klwillis45 said...

We had pickleball in southwest WI too.

95 & 96 champ right here.

lofty said...

Pillow polo....polo with a kickball and oversized Q-tip like things like they used on American Gladiators. We used to whack the shit out of each other with those things. Or indoor kickball in the the back walls of the gym was a homer, anthing in the ceiling was an out and you could run either way around the bases which were those big gym mats. Good times.

Keith Ginter said...

Pickle Ball up in Wausau too.

Champs for back to back years 9th and 10th grade.
Ended up losing to the 65 yr old female gym teacher and her 23 yr old intern on the last day of class.

You thought super bowl 32 was bad??!?

woziszeus said...

Good work Brad.

Anybody remember the shuttle run? I think it was part of the Presidential fitness had to run 40 feet and back twice while picking up a beanbag at one end.

Group of girls in RF in softball...outstanding and so true!

Bill Hall = 4Ks in 3ABs said...

Dead on. Pickle Ball was such a joke. Anyone else play with a parachute in elementary school?

Tim said...

Pickleball was king in northern Illinois.
We played a game called jungle ball. Our gym teacher was the wrestling coach and would use any excuse to get us in the wrestling room so he could work with his guys during class. I imagine he invented this game, which was basically playing basketball on the wrestling mat on your knees with a nerf ball except you didn't have to dribble, you could tackle the opposition, and there was no basket - you used the floor hockey goals. Jesus, that was fun.

cobra said...

Mushball- Indoor Softball no glove and a tape ball or something like that.
Our shuttle race was with Chalkboard erasers.

Anonymous said...

The definitive guide to PW-S school gym class. A few thoughts:

The Mile - A shocking amount of running for any 5th grader who didn't grow up playing soccer. In middle school I think we ran it at the beginning and end of the year. (Too bad we did no distance running in gym class over the course of the year to train...what a concept...)

Gymnastics - Did you say "pure hell"? Because that is a perfect way to summarize it. I believe we actually did this in 8th grade, which made the "routine" even more socially damaging.

Floor Hockey - That darn puck never seemed to glide across the floor like "real" hockey...stupid thing always flipped or rolled to its destination. And yep, I do recall Steve's epic moment of hockey rage.

Square Dancing - Well put.

Someone just mentioned the parachute...I was thinking the same thing. Seems like a really weird activity in retrospect.

Anonymous said...

I went to a pretty crappy, dirt poor public school, so the only thing we had from your list was floor hockey (and running, I guess).

But we did have something that nobody has mentioned, but I loved. Those weird little square scooters that only sat a few inches off the ground. I know I've seen them since, so this couldn't have just been my school.

They were basically 14"X14" squares of wood with little luggage cart wheels on the bottom. Whenever we had open gym rather than a structured activity (which was roughly 80% of the time) we'd sit on those things, scooting around and whacking eachother with plastic floor hockey sticks. Somebody else had to have had those things, right?

Good times, and great post.

Lance's Other Nut said...

Haha, the mini carts bring back so many memories (mainly of squashed fingers).

We also did square dancing, archery, pickleball, badminton

Bill Hall = 4Ks in 3ABs said...

I remember the scooters! We also had square dancing and gymnastics, but they made up for it by offering things like fencing. That was awesome!

Anonymous said...

Uecker, it's "Parra," not "Peara"

Anonymous said...

how about the ropes in grade school?....(crickets)....was that just me? i'm ok with that!

- Sanchez

blueguitarbob said...

Parachutes in gym class, yes. I distinctly remember all of us twirling a parachute in a circle accompanied by John Denver's "Fly Away." Even in the 5th grade, I remember thinking it was a little bit gay.

Anonymous said...

clean up the back yard???

A game consisting of throwing balls and peices of foam over a volleyball net and trying to end up with less peices on your side of the net than the opposing side.

loved that game!

cobra said...

I loved playing games like soccer in H S and the teacher didn't know the rules so it turned into a waste of time.

ClownShipLollypop said...

Awesome post.

Wrestling - I weighed 90lbs in middle school, so I had to wrestle girls.

Gymnastics - My tumbling routine consisted of 7 straight summersaults. -F

Field & Track - We used softballs to simulate a shotput throw. My teacher told me to "Take a hike" when I threw it over the adjecent fence and hit a neighbors boat.

Square Dancing - The worst part about this was the teacher trying to call the dance like it was a He-Haw ho-down. Ours wore a straw hat and overalls for effect. (Douche)

Sex Ed - For some reason our gym teachers also taught sex-ed. The best part about this was the anonymous question part. Having a teacher answer "What is felatio?" - Priceless

Jacks-Off said...

My best gym class (and sex ed for that matter) memories usually stem from unfortunately always signing up for the class with all of the "special" kids in it. Mostly, it sucked, they always got five strikes in tape ball, got away with slapshots, could physically harm anyone as much they wanted to without fear of repercussion, etc...but every now and they we'd have a gem, like indoor soccer day, when one of the smokers who didn't care, but would kick a ball hard if it came close to him, got a hold of one that went DIRECTLY into 'tard girl's nose. Followed by about 2 seconds of laughter that went straight into crying, like a child...