Flinch!

Just minutes into the action inside the Round Lake gym Tuesday night, I leaned over and asked my mom why we had to sit in the second row of the bleachers during a boys basketball game.

Everyone knows that the closer you sit to the court, the better your chances of getting whacked by the ball.

My track record isn’t so good when it comes to getting hit with flying sports equipment.

Chalk it up to four years as a weekly newspaper editor. In order to convince someone else to write the stories, I had to take the photos … and endure the wrath.

Oh, how I don’t miss that job!

I flinched several times during Tuesday’s game between the Ellsworth Panthers and Round Lake Brewster Raiders, even though the ball bounced within a few feet of me only twice.

Once hit, twice shy, I like to say.

At every Minnesota Twins game I’ve been to in recent years, Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau appear on the screen to tell fans to “keep your eye on the ball.”

I think every high school sporting event should broadcast those wise words at the beginning of a game.

Yes, I apparently need to be reminded … every single time!

I never had to worry about getting whacked with something while I was growing up. One brother was a wrestler and another played baseball. When I went to the matches and the games, I was either safe in the stands or safe behind the fence.

Now, you’re probably thinking that I couldn’t possibly get hurt watching a wrestling match.

Oh, I believed that for a long time too … until the night I stood in the Wabasso gym, waiting for state champion Johnny Frank and his teammates to burst through the banner.

Camera in hand, I was poised to get a couple of shots before the real action began. I knew I was in trouble as soon as the first wrestler broke through the banner and hurled his headgear in my general direction.

Yep, I got nailed … right in the head. Ouch!

After a while, I began to think the kids at Wabasso just wanted to see me flinch.

I was busy snapping photos at a football game one night when the quarterback hurled the football right at me. Naturally, it sent a whole crew of boys in helmets and shoulder pads in my direction. My only injury was a bruised ego.

That next week, I ran into the QB, Brent Baune, in the halls of Wabasso High and teasingly accused him of throwing the ball at me on purpose. He grinned and said something about it making for a good close-up photo. Yeah right, like I’ll get a clear shot of a football being hurled at my head!

Over four years in Wabasso, I was hit with a volleyball, a basketball, wrestling headgear and even a golf ball. Fortunately, the golf ball only rolled into my foot!

I am thankful that photographers have to stand behind fences in baseball and softball, and I was really thankful that Wabasso didn’t have a hockey team.

Now, I’m just thankful I don’t have to cover sports … and I’ll remember to sit a little higher up in the bleacher section at the next Ellsworth ball game.

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