Many of you who have known me for a long time have known that for the past several years, I have taken part in a Paralympic sport called goalball. It has given me many opportunities to train, compete, and learn lessons both on and off the court that I might not otherwise have encountered. I have made no secret of my love of the sport. What I have kept reasonably quiet (apart from my husband, several close friends and family) is that after last week’s Canadian National tournament, I have decided to hang up the jersey and pursue other interests that have gone by the wayside while traveling 8 hours round-trip to practice most weekends.
Almost every year (usually around February), I get sick of the bus trips and make noises about not coming back next year. Ben has always been supportive, giving me the room to make decisions that would give me such joy, while at great sacrifice to himself. But this year has been different for several reasons; we both came to what turned out to be an easily-made decision to let it go. I still enjoy the sport, and that will probably never change. But (without getting into personal nitty-gritties), the investment of time that I put in is no longer paying sufficient dividends to be worth the cost.
After Nationals, I had the privilege of having a great chat with two wonderful women who have both retired from Parasport. They will both likely be a great source of encouragement as next year’s season starts and I am not out on the court. I’ve been told that the first year is often the hardest, because even though there WILL be other things filling my time (friends, family, beading, curling, music), a HUGE part of my life will be gone.
At first, I dreaded giving back my tournament jerseys last weekend. While it was a bittersweet feeling, it is also freeing in its own way. I can sleep in on weekends (as much as Jenny will let me), stay up late playing games with friends, go running with my guide runner, take up curling next winter, make cute bracelets and earrings from designs I dream up, sit at the piano and create music or reinterpret old favorites… the possibilities are endless.
Goalball had its time, and for the most part I would say that it’s been worth it. The lessons I have learned about athleticism, sportsmanship and commitment are invaluable. But now it’s time for other things – and people – to pour into my life. Join me on this exciting new journey!