Friday, November 12, 2010


During the course of a school day many things can frustrate a teacher.  Homework not being completed, unruly students, lack of needed materials and on and on, but then something will come along and put it all back in perspective for you.

On one particular day, it wasn't a 'something', but rather, a 'someone'.


I loved Ricky.  I know teachers aren't suppose to have favorites, but I'll let you in on a little secret...WE DO! (you're shocked I know)  Ricky was one of my favorites....No doubt about it.

Ricky was a student in one of my physical education classes.  He showed up every day, on time.  He dressed properly, always participated, and did his very best at whatever the activity was for the day. He never complained and he was the sweetest kid EVAH!

Oh, and he was legally blind.

As a teacher, I made as many modifications as I could to make Ricky's experience as positive and safe as possible.  However, it IS gym class.  There would be flying projectiles and uncoordinated, over-caffeinated kids running around and inevitably INTO one another.  Ricky and his parents were aware of the risks, but were adamant about allowing Ricky to participate in all class activities.

Well...okey dokey then.

During the indoor soccer unit I used a modified soccer ball that was neon green in color and had a beeping mechanism inside of it to help Ricky identify where the ball was.  This was a good idea in theory, but the reality was that after about 3 good kicks the beeping thingamajig no longer worked.  For the most part, it wasn't that big of a deal and Ricky did just fine.

Then one day, Ricky had a request....

Ricky: Mrs. Fig, can I change positions?

Me: Sure Ricky, where would you like to play?

Come on...guess... what position he wanted to play?


Ricky: Cool...I want to be GOALIE!

Me: (Gulp) Oh...umm..are you SURE Ricky?  Don't you think that might be a little dangerous?

Ricky: Oh come on Mrs. Fig...what's the WORSE thing that can happen?

Of course I'm thinking...umm....well the worse thing is, you are going to get a ball kicked in your face and break your nose.  Then, my boss is going to say, 'What in the HELL were you thinking putting a blind kid in as GOALIE...are you INSANE?!

But...Ricky's parents made it VERY clear they wanted him to have no restrictions. I looked at his personal aide and she said, "Let's go for it.  I'll stand back there and help him by giving him play by play of where the ball is."

Well, okey dokey then.

Me: Okay Ricky, get in there.  Let's see what ya got kid.

The rest of my students looked at me like I'd lost my marbles (can you blame them?).   I just smiled and said, 'Okay, come on now, let's play."

Now the thing is, I had GREAT students.  They never complained when games needed to be modified and they were very good about looking out for Ricky.  So I knew that although they would play hard, they would also take a little off their shots on goal.

Well....MOST of my students would.

Everything was going fine and then one kid becomes a bone head.  He steals the ball and is headed towards Ricky.  He gets right in front of the goal and then unloads a super hard kick right at Ricky.

Ricky puts his hands up to try to deflect the ball, but he's a little late.  The ball hits Ricky in the face and ricochets through the goal.

I gasp...the rest of the students gasp..and Ricky shakes his head and says, "Did I stop it?"

Everyone smiles and starts to laugh...not in a mean, teasing way, but more in a 'you're something else kid' kind of way.  I say, "Sorry Ricky, he got that one past you."

Ricky: "Well...CRAP!"

Meanwhile...the kid who shot the goal is running around the gym...hootin' and hollerin'...and fist pumping, because he scored.

It's funny how sometimes as a teacher you don't have to say a word.  The other kids just looked at him and shook their heads.  One boy gave him a slug in the arm and said..."REALLY?"

And Ricky?

Ricky was PISSED.  He shook off the knock to his noggin' and says, "Come on guys, let's go.  I'll stop the next one."

Yeah, that's right...THAT'S Ricky.  You can see why he was one of my favorites, right!

I thought so.


  1. OMG! I love you even more now that I know you are a GYM teacher! I was ALWAYS, ALWAYS picked last for team sports in gym (well, me and the weird girl who hate her boogers) I have no athletic ability at all. (can a person have 'negative' athletic ability? I have THAT) I think it's just fabulous that blogging can connect 2 people who might otherwise be POSITIVE that they have nothing in common. BTW, love the post. Love Ricky. Very inspirational. However, I am a little nauseous as I am having flashbacks of being mercilessly pelted with dodge balls. It's nothing a quick call to my therapist wont cure.

  2. Well...I WAS a Gym teacher. I no longer teach (which makes me very sad) but I LOVE to tell stories from the 12 years that I DID teach. Soooo many moments...happy, sad, frustrating, hilarious and on and on. And I can proudly say that there was NEVER a student picked last in my class! The kids always wanted to pick I let them pick 1/2...then I divided the rest of the kids myself and posted the teams. Even though I was one that was always picked first I always thought it was HORRID that a kid had to stand there and be LAST!
    I hope you don't have nightmares about dodge ball tonight. Be were one of those girls that TRIED to get hit right away so you could sit down, huh? LOL!

  3. You are correct. I was always very good at sitting. Sitting or leaning. I have strong leaning skills, as well.