The Class Jock                                             Story Editor:
By Sylvia Nablo de Vasquez                              Jason Wallwork
 Cayo, Belize

    It was grade eight and I was the class scapegoat. People have been
 scapegoats for any number of reasons; for me it was that I was new to
 the school and very naive. I was brainy, much too trusting, bad at
 sports, didn't care about wearing the latest styles and couldn't afford
 them even if I had. Quite simply, I didn't know how to be cool.
    The only kids who were nice to me were so just because they wanted
 something. In one case, it was a science project in which I did all the
 work and my partner shared in the good grade. It was a miserable year.
    It was Winter in Regina, Sask., Canada, and gym was held inside. The
 class was playing basketball and I played it as poorly as I did any
 other sport. I didn't know the rules and nobody explained them. If I
 somehow managed to get my hands on the ball, inevitably the referee
 would call "Travelling!" Then the ball would go to the other team,
 though I didn't know what I had done wrong.
    I liked sports, even though I wasn't good at them, so I'd eagerly
 run up and down the court with my team. By doing this one day I found
 myself at the other team's basket, across the hoop from my teammate,
 the class jock, Kelly Serge.
    Kelly and I hadn't held a single conversation the whole year. The
 class jock would have had no reason to talk to the class scapegoat. I
 never imagined he was any different from the kids who had been
 humiliating me all year. So I stood waiting for him to make the easy
    He didn't. Instead, he tossed the ball to me.
    I caught it -- stunned. Then I got myself together and willed myself
 to make the basket. I threw the ball. Too high. Kelly caught it on the
 other side. I was so disappointed, but I waited for him to make the
 shot. The class looked on as he again tossed the ball to me.
    I couldn't believe it. True, he didn't need to prove his skill, but
 he'd know that being nice to me wouldn't increase his popularity. I
 determined to do better this time. I eyed the basket, felt the ball in
 my hands, and sent it up. It went in. Kelly grabbed the ball under the
 basket, gave me a grin of approval and threw the ball back into play.
 It was such a little thing. Kelly gave me two chances to make a basket
 when he could've easily gotten the points himself. He risked
 embarrassing himself and losing the game. For me, a lonely 13-year-old,
 it was everything.
    Kelly and I never became friends, but now, 19 years later, I still
 wish I could tell him: "Kelly, from the bottom of my heart, thanks."

HeroicStories #292: 1 April 2002

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