She is our leader, our defender, our champion. She is also the weather person, event planner, schedule coordinator, chief strategist, hand-holder. She is the righter of our ship. And if you are lucky enough to have a captain who can wear that many hats, as I’ve been fortunate to have, you've probably noticed that she’s usually the first person at the courts (no matter the line she is playing) and the last to leave.
Through all of my years playing tennis in Atlanta, I have yet to own the title of “captain" but I’m sure I’ll be forced to claim it sooner or later and I am totally dreading the day! Sure, I may get a gift from the team at the end of the season but what I think I’d cherish more are understanding teammates when things go awry. Which they always do! At the end of the season, when it's time to collect money for the team captain gifts, I'm always willing to throw in any amount to get her whatever she wants because I see her responsibilities as that floundering albatross necklace.
First match of the season. I received my TennisPoint email from our captain indicating my line and food assignment. At the end of her email was a note saying that there was a 60% chance of rain on match day. (You know all the captains peer through squinty eyes as they peek at their weather apps, silently praying for a sunny forecast.) Then, the night before our match, as if the storm winds blew in that very second, a flurry of texts came through from my team’s group text:
First from the captain:
"If it is NOT raining in the morning, please come out for your scheduled time and don’t forget your food assignments ;)"
"If it IS raining in the morning, please stand by and I will update you on what the plans are after talking to the other captain."
"If it rained overnight, but is NOT raining in the morning, I will go to the courts by 7:30 and let you know how delayed we will be. Hopefully, the radar will show that the clouds will have passed and I’ll be needing as many of you as possible to come out and help dry the courts. PLEASE BRING TOWELS."
"If we are totally rained out, please let me know your availabilities for tomorrow and next week so that I can try and reschedule us all together. I love it best when we play as a team and we are all together to cheer each other on!"
Then from the team, were these responses and numerous variations of the same:
"If we have to wait an hour to play, I won’t be able to play this week because (insert excuse)."
"I can come and help dry courts but I left my towels last time by accident. Does anyone have them?"
"If we don’t play on Thursday, I can play Friday morning but have to be done by no later than 11am and I can also play on Monday morning, not Tues, yes on Wed but again have to be off the court by 11am.”
"Won’t be able to help dry the courts but thanks to everyone that does! Go team!"
“I’ll be there come hell or high water!” (Thank God for the ladies who don’t work and whose kids have left the nest!)
That barrage of texts, each adding another To Do item to our captain’s list, sent MY head spinning and wondering how captains do it. All the different scenarios! All the different adjustments! Just way too many moving pieces for me to even attempt understanding how to maneuver!
And why do they step up and take on the captain duties as maddening as they can be? Surely, they’ve got real lives, probably including a few kids, a husband and whatever choice of domestic feline or canine they prefer or both! Certainly their real life responsibilities are much more chaotic than those of a bunch of tennis freaks. But somehow they muster up the courage and volunteer to keep the team afloat. And thank goodness for that!
Why does this position frighten me? Am I not strong enough? Am I not smart enough? Am I not patient enough? YES, to all of the aforementioned. Admittedly, she who is captain is my in-the-moment hero. I am barely skilled at tennis let alone mind-crafting a new schedule for a rained out performance of 20 women (who aren't always so pleasant) and get the kids off to school and the cat/dog situated and whatever else she's got going on in her life...I don’t have it in me.
It did rain that day. My alarm went off at 6:30am and I knew from what I heard going on outside that there would be no tennis that day. I lied in bed listening to one of my most favorite sounds in the world…a light fall of rain dancing to the rhythm of a rolling thunder. It soothes my senses and calms me completely. I texted our captain…
“Oops!…I just realized I actually can’t play tomorrow. But I’m good for Monday and Wednesday but have to be off the court by 11am on Monday and by 12 on Wednesday OR I can play in the afternoons after 3pm…but not on Tuesday…can’t play at all that day. Did you see that it’s going to rain through Monday? Bummer….Have a great day (smiley face)!”
She figured it out ;)
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