Nature's Bakery

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!


Have you ever had a Rudy moment? I did and it feels positively amazing. I highly recommend it.

Remember the based-on-a-true-story movie Rudy where a short, athletically challenged young man puts his heart, soul, body and prayers into becoming a Notre Dame football player – despite the fact that everyone under the sun told him he’d never make it? Well, my Rudy moment happened late this fall out on the tennis court.

I have been a very lopsided tennis player for years. My two-handed backhand has been a weapon. My forehand has been a source of embarrassment. And my running around the forehand just to keep a rally going has been keeping me from league play, the natural would-be next step in my game.

A year ago, of my own accord, I decided to try a two-handed forehand—highly unconventional though not unheard of. I was promptly talked out of it by two different tennis coaches, who sited limited reach and movement as the reasons not to. (Looking back, maybe they just didn’t know how to coach it, or how outta whack I really was.) “You should just work on your improving your stroke,” they would tell me. “Do this. Try that. Don’t do this.” I listened to them, and guess what. I went nowhere at mach speed. This fall, I decided to listen to myself and not take no for an answer, a la Rudy. I wanted this new forehand to work so badly. Being a softball player since I was a kid, two-handed just comes naturally to me no matter which side takes the lead.

Though it’s still a work in progress, for the first time in my tennis life, I feel like I could actually be competitive. I could join a league. I could actually play real tennis, even if my form is a bit unorthodox. I already have a decent serve, I like to be at the net, I move pretty well, the backhand is fairly reliable and occasionally unhittable. And finally, the last piece of the puzzle—the one that typically is the easiest for other folks, has fallen into place.

I’ve watched Rudy several times because of its uplifting, positive message of perseverance and triumph. It’s addicting. After years of frustration and then my recent epiphany, I think I’ll enjoy the movie even more next time it’s on. (You should definitely rent it if you haven’t seen it. It might just put you on the path to your Rudy moment.)

Though winter has moved in on my stomping grounds, I’m toying with the idea of joining a ladies league come spring. Do me a favor: hold me to it. Thanks.