• A friend of Quaker humorist Tom Mullen was a sports nut with an expectant wife. He said that he didn’t care whether the baby was a boy or a girl, but many people thought he would prefer a boy because he loved sports so much. When his child — a daughter — was born, the sports nut called up all his friends and said, “You ought to see her hands. They’re great! She’ll be the best girl basketball player in Indiana!”
Children and Teenagers
• Olympic gold medalist figure skater Tara Lipinski started out as a roller skater. She began to ice skate only on a fluke. This is what happened. The mother of a friend of Tara’s wanted Tara to start figure skating because the future of a roller skater — even a champion roller skater — was limited. (Roller skating is not an Olympic event.) However, Tara’s mother resisted the idea because there weren’t any good ice rinks near where they lived and Tara’s taking ice skating lessons would be very inconvenient. But she decided to let Tara go ice skating just once to prove to Tara’s friend’s mother that Tara would be terrible at it. Sure enough, Tara was terrible at first and fell down a lot. Relieved, her parents went out for hot chocolate. But when they returned 45 minutes later, Tara had figured out how to skate and was doing axels and waltz jumps and was skating backwards. The other skaters were amazed at how much she had progressed in just 45 minutes. Instead of being terrible at ice skating, Tara was hooked on it and began taking lessons.
• When Summer Sanders was two years old, her parents installed a swimming pool. Of course, this led to a problem — how could they keep Summer safe? They tried giving her swimming lessons, but it seemed that Summer preferred to cry rather than listen to her teacher, so her parents gave up on the swimming lessons, bought her flotation devices for her arms, and prepared to keep an eye on her whenever she was near the pool. However, Summer surprised them one day by taking off the flotation devices, jumping into the pool, and swimming. She had been paying attention to her teacher after all. The lessons and swimming pool paid off in a big way — Summer became a gold medalist in the butterfly at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
• Eric Gregg, the third black umpire in the major leagues, got an early lesson in umpiring while working a Little League game early in his career. Billy, a seven-year-old kid playing for a team being battered 21-1, came up to bat and told him, “Mister, you see that guy coaching third base? That’s my dad. I’ve struck out three times today, and if I strike out again, he’s really gonna let me have it.” With a full count on the kid, a pitch was close enough to be called a strike, but Mr. Gregg called it a ball and the kid walked. Later, he started to tell the other umpires about the kid, and they knew immediately who the kid was: “Billy! That kid get you, too? He pulls that sh*t every week! You didn’t give him a free walk, did you?”
• Muhammad Ali, whose name at birth was Cassius Clay, began to box as a result of someone stealing his bicycle. He had gone into an auditorium to attend a bazaar, and when he got out his bike was gone. He complained to police officer Joe Martin and said, “If I find the kid who stole my bike, I’ll whip him!” Mr. Martin, an amateur boxing coach, suggested, “If you plan to whip somebody, maybe you’d better come down [to the gym] and learn how.” The young Cassius took Mr. Martin’s advice. He never did find out who had stolen his bike, but he challenged a neighborhood bully to a fight and busted his nose. After the fight, he and his friends stopped fearing the bully.
• When Lynette Woodard was five years old, one of her cousins, Geese Ausbie, told her about his experiences playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, and so young Lynette wanted to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. She practiced her cousin’s basketball tricks around the house as she grew up, with the result that she broke many things around the house as she grew up. However, the practice paid off. She became a scoring sensation at Kansas University, finishing her collegiate career with 3,649 points. In addition, in 1985, she became the first female Globetrotter, debuting on October 17 in a game played in Brisbane, Australia.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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