Once I was the naughty girl up the back of the bus, now for my sins, I’m the bus driver.
I recently spent six days ferrying a busload of excited thirteen year old girls around Canberra for Waterpolo Club Nationals.
My daughter says it was the best week of her life. I say it’s great material for a novel.
I couldn’t swim 50m without a winch and a cable, and my only trophy in high school was for debating, but even I couldn’t help being drawn into the high drama that played itself out, in and out of the water.
Ghastly coaches channeling Damir Dokic, losing to inspirational coaches (like ours) who carried their charges’ best interests in their hearts.
Parents who couldn’t bear to watch pacing the walkways, while others screamed themselves hoarse from the bleachers.
Boys teams boot-stomping the metal grandstands, cheering the girls on to victory. Bubbly teenagers thrilled to be competing at their first Nationals, cartwheeling past calm and confident Olympians-in-waiting.
And then there was the biggest cliche of them all – the worst sport of the comp.
She of the long, blonde hair, and the speed and ruthlessness of a shark. Good enough to be noticed in the preliminary games, bad enough to be excluded from her final game in the play-offs after fouling one time too many.
Well team, what goes round, comes round.
She glowered from the sidelines as a five-all draw went to extra-time, then lost it big time when the golden goal went to Queensland…
I consider myself a wordsmith, but I can’t remember the last time I heard vocabulary like that from a fourteen year old.
She refused to shake hands with the winning team as they filed past the pool, and stormed off, trailing invective in her wake.
For five nights they had slept like puppies, piled on top of each other, then bounded through each day, leap-frogging every pole at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Best week of their lives, they say.
I say true character is revealed under pressure – in fiction, as in life.
A new story is bubbling its way to the surface – watch this space.