The Next Michael Jordan

Jacqueline on crutches after a rough game she tripped over another player and twisted her ankle.


Sports. That word alone opens the mind up to an array of fun moments:  crowds cheering, cheerleaders wiggling, bands playing, and spectators doing the wave. The ability to bounce a ball, make a catch, slam a dunk, swim with vigor, run a track, or volley a ball can get you places in this country. Heck, the entire world is a montage of high rolling, Benz driving sports figures and the minute a child sinks his first balled up piece of paper into a trash can without even hitting the rim, his parents probably envision him poolside in his own mansion or sailing his own yacht. Why do you think there are so many irate out of line parents getting kicked out of their kids sporting events? They do not want ANYONE, not even another precious child looking for a fair shot to shine, standing in the way of their dream of life, liberty and fiscal happiness! But making money is not the only pull that comes from playing sports. Excelling at a sport can help a kid gain confidence. When they dominate another team, they have a feeling of pride and camaraderie with their teammates. It is hard to replicate that emotion. Sports players are noticed. They wear the letter jackets in high school, they get the free ride to college, they can be missing a whole row of teeth and score the hottest babe in the room. And for many parents who have tried and failed to make an impact in the world of sports, living that dream through their child can be the next best thing. They have made it! They have arrived! Now for me, the best I ever did at sports was play a mean game of double dutch out in the middle of the street in front of my mother’s house. My children play sports but I learned a long time ago that sports for them will simply be a fun experience. There will be some great moments and there will be some heartache. But through it all, I will be there to cheer them on. And if they make it big in the world of sports I will be so happy, so proud, and so…surprised…


1. AJ’S FIRST SOCCER CLINIC. I enrolled my son in soccer when he was just in preschool. As a young parent I had dreams and visions of my son doing everything from flips to using his head to score the winning goal. Needless to say, when he got out on the field and ran like lightning past the other kids towards that soccer ball, I just KNEW my baby was going to dominate. But, no, instead he picked the ball up and ran as fast as he could towards the goal. I think he may have thrown it in but no one was putting him up on their shoulders at the end of that game.

2. JACQUELINE’S FORAY INTO ICE SKATING. Honestly, I should have known better than to put my child onto a blade and expect her to balance herself on ice. This is a child who trips and falls while walking up the stairs on a regular. Violation!

3. ISAIAH’S BASEBALL SNAFU. I admit, I didn’t know that the mini baseball clinic I signed my kindergartener up for included a parent-child component. Had I known, I wouldn’t have shown up in jeans and heels. So there I was trying to practice throwing and catching this ball with my son who thought that hurling the ball as hard and far as possible made for a good time. And when it was time to hit the ball and practice base running, he sped right down the center of the field, his little feet not hitting a single base. I mean, did he not SEE the other kids tapping the base? Really?!

4. I SUCK AT SPORTS. I remember trying out for the softball team in high school. I honestly don’t know why since I was afraid of the ball. I think the only time I caught a ball was when I stood there screaming with the glove over my face because a ball was flying towards my head. It landed in my glove and knocked me to the ground. I had the nerve to be proud of my catch but if genetics have anything to do with it, the Otey kids may want to stay far away from softballs.

5. AJ’S BASKETBALL HOOPS AND DREAMS. I’m not sure why but I thought my son would be a basketball natural. However, running as fast as he could up and down the court without knowing how to dribble as fast as he runs probably isn’t going to make him the next Michael Jordan either. But hey, never say never.

6. JACQUELINE’S PENDING TRACK AND FIELD DOOM AND GLOOM. My husband is insisting that our daughter run track. I still do not understand why. She has to be the only person I have ever seen run in slow motion. I love her but running is not her strong suit.

7. AJ’S SINK AND SWIM. Oh boy, I don’t know what to say about AJ’s swimming abilities. After many months of swim lessons over the years my son managed to splash frantically in the water while still sinking. He has finally gotten to the point where he can swim without looking like a drown victim but I still worry.

8. JACQUELINE’S BALLET RECITAL. My daughter is a beautiful and artsy young lady. But she painstakingly ponders everything she does which makes excelling at sports and fast-moving activities a bit of a challenge. When she was in preschool she took ballet and tap. My husband and I sat there at her recital watching her perform with her peers on stage. She was as cute as a button and as slow as molasses. My husband actually stated that she looked like she was on a five second delay. Oh well, at least she looked awesome in her tutu.

9. AJ’S FOOTBALL HEAD INJURY. My son is a pretty decent football player and has made some great plays on the field. However, I cannot overlook the fact that he tripped and fell at a football game and hit his head on a brick wall. Um, after stitching him up and checking for a concussion I now give him the side-eye any time he runs past a wall.

10. JACQUELINE’S BROKEN TETHERBALL DREAMS. My daughter managed to fracture her hand in two places while playing tetherball at school. Apparently, her ability to hit a ball on a string is not as strong as her ability to hit the metal pole that the ball and string are attached to.

Sorry but I have to give an honorable mention to MY HUSBAND’S ILLUSTRIOUS FOOTBALL LEGACY. Yes, I saved the best for last. My husband virtually a star football player. Well, this is based on his reenactments of his high school playing days. Unfortunately, he suffered a major shoulder injury and never got to play football again. Of course, this ruined his potential NFL career so be forewarned, we have 3 sons who are primed to pick up where daddy left off (despite Isaiah’s declaration that he hated the sport) and we are coming to a football field near you!

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