During sport events like class matches or sports day, I have a pretty clearly role: take pictures, participate in the actual sports-ing only if absolutely necessary. Don’t participate enough to dispel the myth that I am amazing at all sports. There are typically only three sports played during class matches: volleyball (boys and girls), soccer (boys), and Japanese dodgeball (girls). I avoid playing volleyball at all costs simply because I’m so awful at it. The boys get serious about their soccer games and don’t ask me to participate. That just leaves dodgeball. I usually end up subbing in for another teacher who is trying to duck out.
I have always been decent at the dodge part of dodgeball. The same talents that helped me mildly succeed as a lacrosse goalie also helped me getting hit. I am good at keeping my eyes on the ball(s) and moving quickly. Where it all falls apart is the throwing part of the game. I think my 14 month-old niece can throw better than me, despite the fact that my arms are actually decently strong. It just has never worked for me. As a result, I often find myself the last person standing with no hope of actually pulling out a victory for my team.
Compounding this is the fact that Japanese dodgeball is different than American dodgeball. For starters, there is only one ball. You would think this would make things easier, but don’t worry, they’ve thought of that. Not only do you have to worry about the people in front of you, you also have to worry about their best throwers that they’ve positioned behind you. That means that you might be pegged in the back of the head within the first three seconds. (Which is how I got out the first time I played three-ish years ago.)
This time I actually did fairly well: until I got hit in the face. The softball girls tend to be the ones who gain control of the ball, so there is some serious power behind each throw. It was enough to knock not only my hat, but my sunglasses off as well. Thankfully the damage was no worse than a slap to the face would cause. I was left stinging and with a slightly sore nose, but otherwise unharmed.
I had bought a bag of salt candy on my way to work that morning. Throughout the day, I handed out candies to students who looked particularly tired and sweaty. I also tried to make sure I was eating one every so often and took regular water breaks in the air-conditioned teachers’ room. Even so, by the afternoon I had some of the classic symptoms of overheating. I had actually been doing a much better job of avoiding the heat-headaches and the like despite how hot and humid it was, so I knew that was a sign to take a break.
I ended up missing the closing ceremony for the class match, but the vice principal told me about it afterwards. Apparently, he ended up announcing that I took over 2000 pictures that day (which I did). The students cheered and applauded. Despite how many teachers and students see me with my camera during school events, I don’t think a lot of them realize what happens with the pictures I take. Most of them (the ones that survive the purge) end up uploaded to the school’s servers and used in school promotional materials/ newsletters. When I made a poster using my favorite pictures from the past four years, the vice principal even seemed surprised by how many he had seen before. “You took that one? I’ve been using that one on a bunch of things!”
I did feel a slight pang of annoyance that they were using my work without my permission, but I let it go. It is good that my pictures are being put to good use. And, besides, it’s not like I can post a lot of my favorites because they have the students’ faces in them. At least this way my work is being seen by a lot of people.