By Kevin Ryan
Posted on April 13th, 2016
I took a hike through the forest this morning (like almost every morning). Right near the end of today’s walk there is a log home which I’ve passed by many times. But today I noticed that they have a basketball hoop up in their driveway. “Oh, that’d be nice to have.” We can’t have one at our home because we don’t have any flat land. Actually, I guess we could put up a hoop and it would make for an interesting game since our driveway has a pretty good slope to it.
We didn’t think about how nice it would be to have some flat areas when we bought our land and built our home up here in the mountains back in the mid 1990s. Our log home is made of hand crafted logs that were shaped and fitted up in Canada before being taken apart and then traveling down to Shaver Lake, California. Amusing to think of the shell of our home on a few big trucks making their way down I-5 through Portland, Salem, Eugene (our former home), Mt. Shasta, and eventually making its way here.
I was a discus thrower on our track team in high school and I was competing against people that usually outweighed me by at least 50 lbs and also had quite a few inches on me. Most of the discus and shot putters on all the different squads were lineman from the football team. I’m not built like a lineman. Try as I might, and I really tried, I couldn’t get my weight above 150 lbs. Trust me though, that “can’t get your weight up problem” does goes away when you get older.
I was good enough to get invited to some invitationals with some of the best in the state/nation where my relative size compared to them was even more apparent. My best throw was 151′ 11″ which wasn’t too shabby for my weight. The discus doesn’t rely on brute strength as much as the shot put so I was able to use technique to get on a more even keel with my competitors. Plus my math skills let me know that I wanted to release the discus at at 37 degree angle with a -10 degree angle of incidence.
As a quick aside, those two photos were taken at our meet at McLane High School in Fresno. I recently found out that Warren Zevon went to that high school.
Track and Field is a spring sport just like tennis, so you choose one or the other. Tennis fits my body type and skills much better than the discus did. Not sure why I choose discus over tennis. When I was younger I wasn’t too bad at tennis used to play quite a bit at the tennis club that my family belonged to. My older brother lettered in tennis at Fresno State and I think I would have had a good chance to do the same (at Oregon) if I had taken up the sport seriously.
Discus vs Tennis
When I was a senior in high school back in 1979, I remember sitting in my 6th period math class when Jeff Anderson started talking about tennis and the discus. He was on the tennis team. He thought tennis was a much better sport than just tossing the discus. He said, “When we get old I can call up a friend and say ‘hey want to play a round of tennis?’ What are you going to do? Call up someone and say ‘hey want to toss the discus around?” I said, “Uhhh. Yeah, I guess.” I think he had a point.
My Dad is 86 and he played tennis until recently when his knees gave out. He was Fresno State’s starting QB back when he was in college and I suspect his knees took a lot of punishment. Growing up I watched lots of tennis matches on tv with my Dad and brothers. Wimbledon and the US Open were the big matches, but the French Open was neat because it was played on clay which gives a whole different pace to the game. I remember watching an epic match between Borg and McEnroe at Wimbledon back in 1980. It was beyond belief wonderful. The sort of thing that the word ‘epic’ was made for.
I wonder if I still have my old Wilson wood tennis racket somewhere. I should call up my little brother (50 year old little brother) and play a couple of sets sometime. Seriously. It used to be a lot of fun and its been a long time since I’ve played. Basketball needs too many people and the discus needs too few. To quote Goldielocks, tennis feels just right.
But right now I really feel like calling up my old high school friend, Jeff, and saying, “Hey wanna toss the discus around!”