Once, back when I was a well-rounded child doing lots of well-rounded things, I did gymnastics. If you’ve ever seen me stick my leg out you’ll find this funny (I can’t, not straight anyways). I was 9 and somersaulted my time away with other middle-class white girls from Maine. It was all good. Until we were selected for pre-team.
Note the term “pre-team” as in “not-yet-on-the-team” with the “real team” being comprised of 10-year-olds. Clearly “pre-team” was not the height of achievement but it did mean a bedazzled leotard so that seemed like a good deal. They brought in a new coach for all the teams, including “pre-team”.
This coach had trained actually successful athletes, which explained his demanding tone and expectations. This would only become clear in retrospect however. The only thing that was clear in 1998 was that I was 9 and this man was terrifying.
The day it all broke down was the day that the pre-team was to try the vault for the second* time. If you are unfamiliar the vault is basically a very hard box you do fancy tricks on. To do fancy tricks however you must first learn to fling yourself at the very hard box. We did not want to do this.
Our coach had us line up as we trembled with fear.
"Repeat after me - I’m a sissy baby scumbag"
Chorus of little girls "I’m a sissy baby scumbag"
That was the end of his coaching career at that particular establishment.
Nowadays there’s a lot of shit I really don’t want to do, but part of me whispers - "I really don’t want to be the sissy baby scumbag who’s too afraid to do this thing" It’s weird lesson that weirdly stuck.
*The first time’s easy because you don’t realize that it’s not easy. Then you learn the vault is not your friend, has no cushions, and will hurt you at every opportunity