Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

A common daydream of the not-so developed mind of a teenage boy is that of being the hero of a game. Walk-off home run, buzzer-beating 3-pointer, overtime goal – the list goes on and on. The play is made, the referee confirms the glorious moment, and you are hoisted on the backs of your teammates and on to the bus for celebration & mayhem. I am proud to say that I had this moment in the sun and was celebrated like Curt Schilling in the ’04 ‘Bloody Sock’ ALCS game, with a minor caveat, though similar amounts of blood. Let me explain…

Some of us joined to stay in shape during the winter before the slate of spring sports. Some of us were forced to join to stay out of our parents’ hair after school. But none of us were there because we were great swimmers. Meet the 2008 middle school swim team! This tightly knit group of misfits thoroughly enjoyed each other but didn’t care much for the sport of competitive swimming itself. I turned out to be lousy at virtually every stroke with the exception of the backstroke. I tried to mimic the greats, particularly their rhythmic shoulder movements that reminded me of dancing (makes sense – I am a lousy dancer too). The best part about being a backstroke specialist – my events were done within the first 20 minutes of the meet, and the 50-meter backstroke, my best event, was the very first event. This gave me ample time to do stupid things with my fellow teammates, like eating Jello packets, towel whipping, Texas Hold ‘Em, yelling nonsense, etc.

On the other side of the spectrum away from our hodgepodge swim team, the girls’ volleyball team was the star of the school. Not only did everyone have crushes on their team members, but at that age, hanging out after school for actual games was one of the few ‘cool’ things to do – as long as you were not staying for a boys’ swim meet. And of course, the event of the winter – the volleyball team’s first round of playoffs at our home gym was slated to begin shortly after our away swim meet; a damning blow to our bustling social lives.

We debated a team-wide strategy of faking sick the day of the volleyball game & swim meet, but unfortunately parents caught wind of it and thwarted our plan. Begrudgingly we made the trip after school and began our warmups in the dank pool below clouds of toxic levels of chlorine, knowing all too well that we were missing the event of the year.

As I hopped into the water to climb onto the blocks for the meet’s first event, I was surprisingly focused. My plan was to swim fast, but above all, start fast off the blocks with a rocket-like explosion never seen before. ‘Take your mark’ ‘Get set’ *starting horn* I made a perfectly timed start, practically leaping 10 yards back, with excellent dolphin kicks underwater to limit drag, and beginning my groovy shoulder movements as I submerged. I was flying. However, after just a few moments, horns started blaring, and I found myself wrapped up in the flags that the officials pulled down to stop the swimmers. Confused and out of breath I looked around the pool and then back down my lane. There I saw a trail of blood similar to a scene out of Jaws. As I climbed out of the pool, it was abundantly clear that I had a gnarly gash on the bottom of my foot from the starting blocks. The officials spoke together for a few moments, pulled over the coaches and then announced that the swim meet was cancelled due to the condition of the pool and required chemical shock. To the confusion of the other team, we began celebrating at the prospect of returning to school in time for the second half of the volleyball game. As soon my foot was tended to and wrapped up, I was carried out and into the locker room like a champion.

The very best part: out of caution, the away team’s nurse gave me a set of crutches to stay off my foot. I showed up to the girls’ volleyball game as a battle-hardened hero, with no time to explain the circumstances behind it.  

By Thomas Schulte CFP® Director of Financial Planning Read More