Friday, February 11, 2011

High School P.E. and What it Did For Me

There are a lot of  things that I have blocked from my mind.  A lot of things from High School.  A lot of things from High School P.E. class.  For example, I have no idea what I wore during P.E.  I can't remember changing cloths.  I know I did, but I've blocked it.  I vaguely remember extra doses of deodorant, but that's about it.

Besides Coach Clark that is.

No one can forget him.

Coach Clark was the P.E. teacher, the wrestling coach, and the football coach.  We called him the ape-man or the missing link.  Cruel I know, but if you had seen him you would agree.  He was barrel chested, swarthy in complexion, and as compassionate as an ape.

He put up warm-up exercises for us to do at the beginning of class.  Other, less informed people, who saw the list on the wall thought they were for the wrestling team.  Nope.  They were for a bunch of girls.

It was not uncommon for this list to contain such things as: run 25 laps, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 25 sets of ladders.  Lest you think that these were spread out, not so.  Usually all four were on the "warm-up" list. 

The worst were the push-ups.  We had to do them right.  Meaning we had to partner up and our partner had to hold their fist on the ground right below our chest.  As the pusher-upper, we had to lower our body (no knee push-ups mind you, full on straight legged) to the persons fist.  Then and only then had we completed a push-up.  Others didn't count.  I hated push-ups.  Only when we had completed all of the warm-ups were we able to continue on with the rest of the class. 

My partner was Sally.  She was great.  We cheated. We never did finish a complete set up push-ups, or at least not accurately.  It was odd how sometimes I would be lifting myself up and her fist would just hit me in the chest without me even moving.  Fastest push-ups I ever did.  We laughed a lot.  Coach Clark didn't like us.  He was pretty much disgusted with our weakness.  Did I mention we were in high school... we were weak by definition.

On the last day of class Sally and I decided that come hell or high water, we would finish our set of push-ups.  Just this one time we would make Coach Clark proud.  You know, to give him a reason to believe he was doing a good job, to pay him back for all the anguish we gave him.  We didn't cheat.  We persevered.  We lowered our chest to the other person's fist.  We collapsed regularly in exhaustion and laughter, mostly laughter.  He was still disgusted with us.  But we kept on going.  After a good half hour into class he finally came over and told us to stop and get going with the rest of the class.  He was still disgusted.

I like to think that he learned from this experience.  I hope he realized that all men/women are not created physically equal.  That sometimes people just aren't interested in doing push-ups until our arms fall off.  That high school girls don't like to sweat during the day because it ruins make-up and hair.  That not everyone is a wrestler.

I know I learned a few things.  I learned that Sally was an incredible partner in crime. I learned how to change in the locker room with speed and accuracy (still can't remember what I wore though, shorts and a t-shirt I'm sure but I have no recollection of what they actually looked like).  I learned to block out a lot of memories about high school P.E.  I learned that I absolutely hated push-ups.

I think it may have scarred me just a little... don't worry, I'm sure I'll get over it some day.

How about your P.E. memories?


  1. Ah, Gepfords. Great partners in crime. I agree wholeheartedly. I remember almost getting in an accident once, while the driver (I can't remember if it was Sally or Ruth, put her hose back on while I tried to steer the car. We were coming home from Westre's, I think, instead of coming straight home from some YM meeting. Scary but Hilarious! at the same time.

  2. I don't remember having Coach Clark for PE. I remember Mr. Smith and my memories consist of squats, squats and more squats. Yeah, I have blocked High School PE memories too (and a few others as well). I did gain one skill from those years that is beneficial to me today though... getting dressed in the blink of an eye. hahaha


  3. Ah, in ninth grade I remember thinking that running the mile and a half would KILL me. However, junior year took me to water aerobics, and I've been in love ever since. If it's not a class of old ladies, it's a great workout.

  4. 1. I have completely blocked PE from my mind. DID NOT EXIST as far as I'm concerned.

    2. Didn't everyone cheat at push-ups?

  5. Back in 1962 in the old high school,
    the girls locker room was in a moldy basement, with moldy towels, moldy shower stalls, and moldy windows that had to be shut because of peepers. That is a smell I will never forget!

  6. I actually really liked PE, but I didn't like it when we were grouped with some of the older classes. I remember distinctly that there was this one older guy that got mad at me for getting him out during Dodgeball and yelled "You have a big nose!" Seriously. traumatized. by. this. To this day I feel VERY self concious about my poor nose.... :)

  7. What Tawnya said.