“Chaser, run faster,” my coach had always said with his whistle ready to blow it whenever he pleased.
I was running fast, just not fast enough, at least that’s what Coach thought. I could never please him and I hated him for that.
I also hated him because my last name was Chesser, which I didn’t like anyway because my classmates usually called me Lisa “Cheeser.”
Coach had a Southern accent so at first I just corrected him. “Chesser,” I would say after the third “Chaser.”
It didn’t work. He didn’t stop.
Everyone laughed. All the time.
At least I wasn’t Cheeser anymore I rationalized. But, I was wrong because Chaser just became an addition to the Cheeser taunt. On the field, I would be Chaser. In the classroom, I’m Cheeser.
I remembered all of this because of a game, a soccer game. There he was, the Coach. There they were, me, them, everything.
Playing, running, sweating, stressing!
If the little soccer player on the field was stressing, you wouldn’t know. As I watched and listened, I wondered whether or not this would change.
A seven-year-old boy in giant blue soccer shorts ran, almost skipped as he played. The other players only between 7 and 8 years old, just lounged, ran, kicked almost randomly. The parents yelled, so loudly. “Kick the ball!”
“The other way!”
It was hilarious. I laughed so hard.
Of course, I was reprimanded because this was serious business. This was their first game and they needed to win.
The older one, the daughter, couldn’t take the yelling and sat under a tree, far away, and read a book, much quieter, no screaming.
When the younger one, the seven year old ran to me, he said, “We lost!” I smiled and hugged him. “You gotta lose a lot before you know how to win.”
And, really, that’s how have I dealt with upset or disappointment or even teasing on a daily basis.
I’ve lost. A lot.
Winning. I really don’t remember that much about winning.
I remember working. That’s about it. I think because that’s what I do now. I work. Even when I decided to start writing again, really writing, beginning with this blog, I still work at it. It’s more of a daily triumph rather than a celebrated win.
And, I have lots of problems, so many that I work at overcoming them, not even trying to fix them. So, when I look backward or remember my life, I see struggles and what I did about it. This helps me see what to do in the future.
I remember the painful moments. I remember Chaser. And Cheeser.
That’s what messed me up or so I thought. I really hated that. I mean, if I had to go through that again, I think I’d go insane or maybe laugh and never stop.
Perhaps that’s why I started laughing like crazy at the soccer game.
That was my son and his teammates. They were having fun and the spectators, mainly parents, were too, but they were total jerks. They were Coach Chaser and those kids from my class when I was younger.
When I saw my daughter roll her eyes and walk off to a tree to read her book in peace and quiet, I thought about how I later decided to do the same. I don’t think that’s giving up. I think that’s a way of dealing with a problem. She looked just as happy as my son skipping along, oblivious to the yelling.
I didn’t skip, I ran, but at my own pace. After scowling at Coach Chaser, I ran, not faster the way Coach wanted, but I didn’t stop running. I was the best long distance runner in track. I always went last in relays and I always won the 440.
It was a down time and I endured.
Some win, some lose, some win and lose.
I endured. And, I won.
So, when I look at seven and eight year olds playing soccer and the parents who push them, yell at them, cheer for them, and the Coaches who guide them somehow, not quite as annoyingly as mine did, but in their own way, I think, endurance.
Or, just run at your own pace, it’s your choice.
Written By Lisa Chesser