The last time I had played tennis with my neighbor, I had trouble getting to the ball. This was nothing new. It’s been one very slow post-cancer comeback for me, starting with molasses-slow treks up stairs all the way through to watching my neighbor take a nice shot on the tennis court while I stood perfectly still, because frankly, why bother going for it when I’ll just come up empty and disappointed, not to mention winded? And then there was today, a new day. A day I have ten boys to thank for.
It had been two weeks since I’d last played tennis, or rather, slow-motion tennis. My neighbor had humored me, but I can’t imagine it was much of a workout for her. She didn’t even break a sweat, while I, on the other hand, was dripping wet as though I’d just ran a marathon. And it felt like I’d run a marathon. I came pretty close to crossing the base line and collapsing. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it felt like it.
That day, I left the court frustrated that my comeback wasn’t coming back. But today? I got to the ball—lots of them. I served with power and I dashed to reach drop balls—and actually got them. I even won a few games. All in all, I lasted an hour on the court before I got winded and dizzy, which is a major improvement over oh, every single time I’d been on the tennis court this summer.
“What happened these past few weeks?” my neighbor asked me.
“I yelled while running,” I explained.
I’ve been coaching soccer for the past few weeks, which means I’ve been running around the field in my old soccer cleats, shouting gems like, “Jared! You’re right halfback. Why are you on the left?” Also, “Get the ball outta here!”
Apparently, this combination of running, sometimes backwards, and shouting directions is one heck of a workout, because suddenly, I am in better shape than I was even just a few weeks ago. Much better shape, though my throat hurts a bit from last night’s “Nobody’s in front of the goal!” and “Way to go, Colin!” and “Nice save, Jimmy!”
As a result, I may have stumbled upon a new workout. Maybe I can sell it to Nintendo, prompting people across the nation to shout at soccer playing cartoon characters on their TV’s while getting back into shape. All I know is that I’ve got two soccer games and a practice to coach before the next time I play tennis. And, thanks to the boys on my soccer team, I’ll be ready. My neighbor had better look out.