In my next life I am SO going to be a jock. But in this life not so much. Somehow I made it through Junior High and Senior High without feeling inadequate in gym classes. But Phys Ed at Tufts – oh, excuse me. Jackson College for Women as it was termed then- required our first two years, was a total disaster.
Freshman year we started right out with field hockey. Other girls were intent on scoring or preventing a goal. My only goal was to survive the game without getting hurt. As the other team came charging down the field, I would just get out of the way. You can imagine how popular that made me. But I didn’t care. Two years ago when my granddaughter gave field hockey a try, I went to the first game. When I heard those sticks slapping against each other, I felt physically sick and had such a flashback, I never went to another game.
Swimming must have been in the winter because I can recall walking out of Cousens gym into the New England cold with my hair still wet. In order to graduate, you had to swim the length of the pool. I finally did it, but I was not good at it and have never really enjoyed swimming. (Future post on this.)
I think it was spring of sophomore year that I took tennis or, more accurately, tennis took me. I had a really good serve, but in one whole semester, I don’t think I ever returned the ball once.
Somewhere in those two years, we were subjected to Danish Gymnastics, led by a visiting teacher from Denmark, maybe. All I remember is being forced to roll repeatedly down the hard wood floor of Jackson Gym. My hip bones ached, and I had lots of black and blues. There were other exercises but I have blessedly forgotten them.
Then the ultimate indignity: we were forced to take a posture test. If you failed, I guess you were assigned a corrective posture class. The test involved standing naked, body projected on a screen, while one of the gym teachers traced the outline. At our 50th Reunion, a classmate reported that over the years if she described this experience, no one believed her. Meanwhile, Madeline Albright, who was at Wellesley during this same time period, mentioned, in some speech or writing that she had been subjected to this examination as well.
All of this was almost enough to make me swear off physical activity for life. But in a future post, I redeem myself. And I tell you that somewhere, in some alternate life, if only in my dreams, I will run marathons, climb mountains, and complete triathlons. I just know it.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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