When I think back to 7th grade, there are three things that stick out to me like Kirstie Alley would at... well anywhere really. At the forefront of the memories I have of the 7th grade are my overalls. I legitimately remember having four different pairs of overalls, and I allowed myself to choose from my assortment one day per week. If Friday came along and I had somehow managed to pull together four different private-school-dress-code-appropriate outfits that week, overalls it was... no questions asked. The second thing I remember about 7th grade was my desperate need for some sort of hair-straightening device. At some point before God's gift to woman-kind came along, my mother should have broken the bad news to me that my hair was unsuitable to the public eye, laid my head on the ironing board, and actually ironed my hair flat. But we've already discussed my hair issues at length. Pun most definitely intended. The last thing I remember about the 7th grade was that I was a tomboy. And I don't mean your Erin Andrews type of tomboy.
All three of these memories culminated into a moment that changed my life forever. It happened in Ms. Walker's 2nd period Social Studies class. Everyone in my class was assigned to write an essay about what we wanted to be when we grew up. What this had to do with Social Studies? Your guess is as good as mine. But nonetheless, there I sat... a tomboy in overalls with unmanageable hair. Now that you have a mental picture...
I can imagine that this was a fairly difficult assignment for most 12-year-olds. Not for this one. You see, I had just recently defeated the defending champion of the one-on-one tournament at Christian Competition's fourth session summer basketball camp. Clearly I was made for big things. Namely, the WNBA. Yes, you read that correctly. The Women's National Basketball Association. The fact that I stood at a grand total of 5 feet, 2 inches tall (if I'm lying, and 5 feet even if I'm being honest) and had a vertical of no more than 6 inches was completely irrelevant. As was the fact that I was, and would always be, white. None of that mattered. This was my destiny, and I finally had the chance to let the world know about it. I went home, whipped up my story, and headed back to school the next day.
If I could tell the 7th grade version of myself anything, anything at all, I would tell her to be just a smidgen less cocky about her dreams of dominating the WNBA. That way, what was coming next wouldn't hurt so much.
We were required to read our stories aloud to the class the next day. My classmates jabbered about their dreams to be teachers, doctors, and lawyers. Ho-hum. I actually felt sorry for them. Healthcare? Please. I was going to save this world one jumpshot at a time. So I stood up, cleared my throat, and informed twenty-two 7th graders of my fate in this world.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting a standing ovation followed by an impromptu autograph session. I'm sure you will all be shocked to hear that neither of these things happened. I was as baffled then as you are now. After all, I was always picked first for trashketball.
It was nearing the end of the class period, and my teacher had the floor. Everyone was all ears. She commented on the nobility of a girl's dream to be a veterinarian, the grandeur of another's aspirations to be a firefighter, and then she laid her eyes on me. Without flinching, she politely (read: venomously) told me that "there isn't a very good chance that you'll make it to the WNBA"......... WHAT?! No seriously, WHAT?! I felt the blood rush from my face, and I subsequently broke into a cold sweat. Who is this lady? And since when is a 12-year old not allowed to dream? Am I even still living in AMERICA? So many questions left unanswered. Ms. Walker was saved by the bell.
I left the class and gave myself a pep talk. Well, that's fine. That's just one person's opinion. It would be my motivation, provided that an awkward, junior high girl is easily motivated when an authority figure, for no reason at all, removes the wind completely from her sails. It was the beginning of a long, slow death to my dream.
Ultimately, I do blame this teacher for why I'm not currently making it rain from 20 feet out while rubbing shoulders with Lisa Leslie and Sheryl Swoops. However, I'd also like to extend my sincerest gratitude to this same teacher for not allowing me to become a part of the mockery that is women's sports in general. Besides, four years later, I made the executive decision that coming home after school and taking a nap was far superior to running the circumference of the football field in less than a minute ten times and being expected to live.
So Ms. Walker, no harm, no foul. I guess I can finally admit that you were right. I didn't make it to the WNBA... yet.