I'm not an athlete. There are lots of words that people use to describe me - crafty, geeky, non-confrontational... "Athletic" is not one of them. Even so, I wasn't prepared for every one's surprise (and concern) when I told them I would be participating in a Powder Puff football tournament. It was something I agreed to do without any real understanding of what I was getting myself into and after an encounter with more than a few very strong Tiki drinks.
I woke up the day after agreeing to play with a headache but feeling good about my decision. That good feeling would last approximately five minutes, as I was quickly educated about the realities of Powder Puff football by Adam. This would not be a easy-going game with a bunch of my girlfriends. This would be nothing like the touch football games my extended family played after holiday meals, where my uncle's signature play involved hiding the football in my 6-year-old cousin's jacket and making her run for a touchdown. Apparently Powder Puff was different, It was rough, tough and dirty.
"But it's flag football," I argued. "It's not like any body's going to get tackled."
"Sure..." everybody said with sarcastic snickers. According to friends who had participated in or witnessed the sport before, violence was very likely. Adam reassured me that it wasn't any more violent than other competitive team sports, which did little to comfort me since I'd never played a competitive team sport. The closest I'd ever come was the women's' tennis team I'd been a part of in high school; I'd dropped the sport when I landed a part in the school musical...
As the day of the game loomed closer, so did my anxiety. The girls who had played in last year's tournament regaled me in emails with stories of bloody noses, black eyes and body slams. With each email, I went from feeling mild unease to experiencing full-on panic. I knew I had to go through with it, though. Part of the agreement I made with myself when we moved to San Francisco was that I would work hard to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. If this wasn't challenging myself, I didn't know what would. I lay awake the night before imagining all the ways I could humiliate myself and all the ways I could lose the tournament for my team.
The field where we played is located right next to the ocean with the Palace of Fine Arts
in the background. How cool is that?!
I know that you're not going to be surprised when I tell you that my expectations were way off. I won't kid you and say this was a "friendly" game. There were plenty of words exchanged between teams. I was tackled more than once, "accidentally" punched in the face and I walked away with a cut on my leg from some one's cleat. But there was plenty of beer, a really great group of girls and a profound sense of accomplishment when it was all over. I participated in a contact sport! I captured a couple flags! I protected this house! And our team won! The whole tournament!
Victorious! And I was only sore for a week!