Having respectfully declined previous games, it was during last Wednesday’s family press conference that I was called out by my 12-year old sister.

By Gus Bode

“I will hate you forever if you don’t go,” blackmailed the 5-feet tall, 90-pound 7th grader from Midland Junior High. I succumbed to her treachery, giving up my Thursday night (the horror … ) to accompany America’s No. 1 mother to Kaylee’s final conference game of the year.

Past cornfields, cow pastures and wrought barbed-wire fences we traveled with the lite-rock radio pumping our hearts and ears for the upcoming battle. “I hope they lose two games,” says America’s No. 1 mother, optimistically. “Friends is on at 7:30.”

Driving at a brisk 57 miles per hour, we catch up to the Langers, whose daughter plays on the 8th grade team. I am warned. “Huge people, Michael, huge…nice people, but one day they’ll drop over dead.” We tail the Langers to and through downtown Washburn to the school, though almost discoursing when America’s greatest mother is distracted by a gas station advertising unleaded for $1.61. “That’s four cents cheaper, Michael, you believe that?” she says, making a mental note to “fill up” on the venture home.


You would never believe me if I told you how ‘full’ our tank was at the time.

We pull into a parking space that is as far away from the school as humanly known possible. It’s so we can get out easier later on. There are a total of 12 cars in rest of the lot.

We enter the school and walk down a broad hallway to the ticket table just outside the gymnasium. The WORLD’s greatest mother (she’s paying my $2 into the game) nonchalantly offers a five to the young girl behind the register, who is not paying attention to us at all, but to a boy running up and down the hallway with a miniature football tucked between his arms. “Hi, James!” the girl calls, as he gives her nothing but the silent treatment. Mom starts wiggling the extended bill inches away from the girl, but it is to no avail. We have become obstructions. Leaning under and away from the bill, the girl makes eye contact and pleads with the boy, “Ugh! You never say hi to me. ” I watch as the boy walks slowly over to the table, ‘caught’, pausing his game with his buddies, and says, “Hi, Taylor.” The girl smiles, and with that we suddenly appear and are granted admission into the game.

We place ourselves on the top bleacher, with our backs against the wall. I notice a sacramental Guns ‘n’ Roses phrase “Welcome to the Jungle” painted in purple on the opposite wall, with little Care-Bear paw prints surrounding the words to drive home the point.

We are just in time to witness the final warm-up drill of practicing serves. Both teams align on opposite end lines, and fire at each other in an all out volleyball raid. My sister hits gentle underhanded bumps, while some of the more aggressive girls are literally punching the ball overhand. I notice that if you are sitting in the first couple of rows, you’re in danger of getting smoked.

As this is going on, the Washburn girls are chanting as they target their opponents. “My name, Sarah! – YEAH! – And I like to spike!-UH-HUH, UH-HUH–And we’re going to win-UH-HUH, UH-HUH-Cause we’re gonna fight!-OK, ALL RIGHT! My name is … ” And so on. The psychological warfare raises the intensity of everything, and I scream at Supergirl #19 to execute a severing jump serve, but she declines, smiling at me with her hands on her hips like, ‘I stand in total nonpartisan to your fanatical schizophrenia … Michael.’

The world’s greatest mom asks me what a jump serve is.


The practice ends, the game begins with my lil’ sister starting in the back row. (!) The 8th grade girls start up a “side-out” rhythmic cheer that goes something like, S-I! S-I-D! S-I-D-E-O-U-T! SIDE OUT! (stomp, stomp) SIDE OUT! (stomp, stomp)

But all the cheers in the world couldn’t help prevent a 2-1 loss at the hands of mighty Washburn. It would have been their second win of the season had they won. I maturely scrawl in my notebook:No fair, their girls are bigger

Fortunately, I was able to hold the post-game press conference up on the top of the bleachers during the following 8th grade game. My sister said insightfully of the game, “it was OK,” while others proclaimed it was “sad, horrible,” while another remarked, “If I would’ve played, we would’ve won.”

Explore us next time when we visit more youngn’s, when we hit the friendly confines of the uptown bowling alley, where our innocence melts into the system that only allows it till you’re 13.