Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sy and others from the distance

I guess I should give you a bit of background before telling you this post. As you can see from the picture on my page I have very poor vision. It was decided that I would attend school at the blind school in my state starting with my fifth grade year. With a few exceptions it was a good move. I no longer had to suffer the daily taunts and picking of the other kids. Also as John likes to remind me, "in the valley of the blind the one eyed man is king." So any way.... I was on a Google list of alums from that school the other day and came across something that really cheesed me off. Under the title of "Thugs" someone had written some very ugly things about a man named Sy. Sy was our gym coach during my time there. He was the wrestling coach earlier then that. This person complained that Sy gave him a bad grade because he wasn't able to do a chin up. Claims Sy told him that he made him sick to the pit of his stomach. Fair enough, now it's my turn.
The first time I met Sy was when he dropped my older brother (also blind) off at the house after having been to a wrestling meet. Sy drove him all the way across a major city, then turning around and going back. My brother wasn't a very good wrestler (too slow between the ears) but he gave it what he could and never quit. Sy liked that in people. So we fast forward a couple of years to the fifth grade and I meet Sy on a professional level. One of the very first things he did was to put me in the pool to teach me the magic of swimming. It took him about two years to overcome my fear of water, never once yelling or getting impatient. Before he was done he had me diving and dragging a dummy off the bottom of the pool. I still have my Red Cross advanced swimmers card somewhere. Sy wasn't the first to try and teach me, he was the last. With his help I did a forward somersault off of the single bar. His arms stretched to catch me if I missed the landing. Climbing to the top of a pole we had hanging from the gym rafters and reaching out to grab a rope and crossing over to it and down. Teaching me the basics of wrestling so I might have some success as I got old enough to try it. I remember him lining us up to explain the use of a jock strap. He told us they were Chinese Nose Guards, and waited to see if someone would really try to put the leg straps behind their ears. I remember asking him about his Red Cross cards, he had one for a fifty mile swim. Not bad for a smoker. He told me that I too could get one of those, and I believed him. I know of his sorrows and losses. I know of his hugs after a bitter defeat to a bitter foe. I know of his making me go out and speak to same foe and shake his hand, acknowledging his effort and sportsmanship. I know that he was one of the ones that began to bring my head up and be confident in who I am. Thank you Sy.

No comments: