Monday, February 22, 2010

A Child's View of Sports & Weight

Angie Conway is one of OnTrack Fitness's group fitness instructors with a unique viewpoint about being overweight in the fitness industry. She's shared part of her journey in the post Breaking Stereotypes, now she's going backward, to share her childhood...

I have been overweight all through my life starting at the age of 10. This is when I hit puberty and had a growth spurt, both up and out. By the end of fourth grade I was 5’4” weighing 120. Neither my doctors nor my parents saw what the charts indicated for my height they were all concerned about my weight for my age.

I participated in every sport possible. I was in dance classes, played softball, basketball and I excelled despite my size. I loved to ride my bike all over town. During the summer I would ride from sunrise to sunset. In my elementary school I was one of the fastest runners in my grade.

But, clothes were ackward for me. I was 10 and had the body of a 19 year-old. I was in Girl Scouts and the uniforms weren't made for my level in my size. When I was in fifth grade, I was on the basketball team and there were no uniforms that fit. I had to have special shorts purchased for me, the color was not the same as everyone elses. My jersey had to be altered to give the shirt another 2 inches around.

The summer after sixth grade I tried out for softball all-stars. There were a couple other girls that were big, but I was the biggest. When it came time to be timed on our running, I had the fastest time. I made the team. This team had great success. We won state tournaments in two different divisions and went to play at a national level, several states away in Kansas!

By the time I got to junior high I weighed about 160 and still expanding outward. The town I grew-up in had several elementary schools that all poured into one junior high. The beginning of my seventh grade year we played dodge ball for the first time in class with a mixed boys and girls teams on teams. I was the last one picked. It always hurts to be last picked, but in junior high it is a popularity contest, and the fat girl is not popular. No one in my gym class really knew me and what athletic abilities I had, they only saw a fat girl.

The art of playing dodge ball is to hit others with one of those red rubber playground balls. And, of course, to catch one that someone hurls at you. Again no one in the class knew that I had just spent the last summer playing softball all over the state of Indiana and across the mid-west. I was not the shy girl hiding in the back or the prissy girl saying “oh don’t hit me” -- I was up front throwing and catching until I was the last one standing. From then on this fat girl was never the last to be picked.

Read more about Angie in her other post.