Thursday, October 17, 2013

Junior HIgh, Etc.

Back in August, the New York Times carried an article about the star pitcher of the Grosse Pointe team in the Little League World Series: at the age of 12, he was 6'3" and 216 lb. He was only the second biggest player in the tournament.

This reminded me why junior high school could be alarming. It covers grades 7 through 9, roughly ages 12 through 14, years during which boys typically grow a lot, but at different rates. A man I know says that he turned out for freshman (9th grade) football at Gonzaga weighing just under 100 lb. During his first and only practice, a well-meaning coach took him aside, and told him that there were boys on opposing teams weighing nearly four times that, leaving him to infer for himself the possible results of a collision. Now, I was never one of the smaller boys, but it was late in 8th grade when I started to get my height. A few other boys in my grade appeared to be the size of NFL linemen.. Considered at this distance--from the halls they dominated--probably they were sized only for high school football.  Even so, they could have easily been half again my weight. Most were benign, but only most.

Earlier this year I saw a young woman signing a friend into our office building. The young man had on a tee shirt reading
America's Twist on Stoning
This also brought junior high school to mind. The usual projectile in dodgeball is a volleyball, but at my junior high we played with what I later learned to be a "Chicago softball". This is a little larger than a regular softball, and a good deal softer: I understand that Mike Royko considered it decadent to see fielders wearing gloves for them. They deform noticeably on impact against a wall or a body, so that it is merely unpleasant to be hit with one, not dangerous. They have less wind resistance than a volleyball, and more mass; they are also more easily grasped to throw, ergo leave the hand at a higher speed and fly straighter. In the hands of a 180 lb. eighth grader, they are intimidating.

Well, we survived, most of us anyway.

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