Have you seen the TV show The Middle? The show is hilarious – especially if you’ve ever had middle schoolers, high schoolers, awkward kids, sweet kids or kids who act like jerks (so basically, most of us). The best episodes are when the characters were a little younger, and my favorite character is Sue, the middle daughter when she was in middle school. She is the most charmingly awkward and sweet and kind-hearted girl ever. She is always positive and goes after her dreams with all her might. But no matter how hard she tries – and wow, she tries – she can not make any school sports team. (That is, until she finds that cross country is a “no cut” sport.) She does have one stint on the school tennis team, where she wins a match because her opponent is so thrown off by all the genuinely nice compliments Sue keeps giving her. As her mom says in the voiceover, that was the first time in her life she got to hear the sweet and never-before-heard words: “Sue Heck Wins!”
My kids and I have watched and laughed at all the episodes. We were reminded of Sue when my daughter Annie joined the high school tennis team last year as a freshman. Her coach was a very good tennis player – and she was kind and cheerful and very patient with Annie, who was used to leaps and turns in dance class, but wasn’t so great (yet) at tennis or the competitiveness of high school sports. But Coach Missy was great with the girls, and they had a fun (if not a winning) season.
The tennis girls are dedicated and they work really hard, but they’re a small team in a small school with a tight budget. And they always feel a bit like second-class citizens. To hear them tell it, the other sports teams get home-game lunches, away-game hotel rooms, buses to the practice field and lots of perks, while the tennis girls find their own rides to practice, buy their own uniforms and only get dismissed from class a measly 10 minutes before they have to catch the van to leave for a match (and it takes Annie longer than that to just arrange her ponytail through her hat).
(Now, in defense of our school, which we love, our former tennis coach was so dedicated and overly generous to the team and the school that she contributed her time, the uniforms, practice courts, etc. often on her own nickel, and I think the school maybe got a teeny bit spoiled – or just forgot the fact that eventually tennis would need a budget again once Coach Missy retired.)
Last year, there was the added insult of receiving their team pictures:
Yes, look closely. The banner across the bottom listed their sport as CROSS TENNIS. I’ll avoid the easy jokes and just say I think the photographer was cutting and pasting the wording and tennis must have come right after cross country?? Anyway, the photo was hilarious and pretty much summed up the way the tennis team sometimes felt like an afterthought behind the big-time soccer, volleyball and cross country teams.
So I wanted to do something nice for the girls for their first match. Enter Pinterest – that wonderful place of fabulous ideas left to my sometimes dismal execution. But I was super enthusiastic and created a Pinterest Board called Team Treats and then found lots of cute ideas for treat bags to send on the van with the team.
I bought water and mini candy bars, pretzels and sandwiches to put in each bag. There were a few minutes of stress when Annie told me one of her teammates is on a cleanse and only eating fruit and nuts, and another small panic when apparently the coach told the team not to bring snacks for themselves because Annie’s mom was providing treat bags (PRESSURE!) but I got to work and put together my very first Pinterest-y project.
I cut out tennis balls from card stock:
Made little tags for the bags:
(Get it? SERVED? Like in tennis??)
And personalized them with each girl’s name:
Didn’t they turn out cute??
So tomorrow I’ll be cheering (quietly, because that’s how they do it in tennis) for this big-hearted team. And at least for one day, the tennis girls will have much cuter treat bags than the soccer boys.