Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

3:33 Sports Short #9 // Hustle

by Julia Shipley

Don't be a shrinking violet, her field hockey coach still yelps from the sidelines of her memory. Don’t be… that shout, still chiding her inclination to contract when the world ongoingly asks, insists, demands: expand!

Then, too, she remembers coach’s warm reward for aggression, or, was it only assertion?

Insertion: when she wasn’t shrinking, oh, how she whacked that solid ball—heavy as a lead egg—at the pad-covered goalie, how she rushed toward that shut door of a girl, (Go! Don't be....), how she took her stick and flicked and tucked that stone bolus behind the goalie's squeezed knees. 

Every game, it seemed, was about forcing a protective female to accept something she didn't want, again and again.

Whenever she behaved unshrunkenly, whenever she mustered her will to drive the white ball forward, whenever she foisted that bit of chattel into the goalie's domain, Ha! –a point for her team. Oh, how instantly she became a tall poppy and oh, she’d receive such gusts of love—the barrage of hurrahs and back claps and playful hand squeezes—such a gratifying crush of camaraderie that lasted, oh, well, not as long as she longed it would last. Not long at all, and then, how she’d list a little and falter, as the twinges of contraction replaced her thrall.


Julia Shipley is the author of The Academy of Hay, winner of the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize and Adam's Mark, named a 2014 Best Book About New England by the Boston Globe.

Categories: