Fenny Vail: The Story Behind An Underdog - Part Three
I can remember the next day so clearly- I was so excited. I even skipped breakfast to get to school early. Lilo would be getting back to me on the tryouts during my study hall, which was my first class of the day. Evidently, I would be waiting on an empty stomach, and that wasn’t exactly the best idea I’d ever had.
As soon as study hall began, I could feel my stomach grumbling and I could feel it turning. The lack of breakfast and the over power of my nerves did not mix well. I was sitting at a table with Laura, and a green Gelert named Kevin in the library. They were both busy with their schoolwork, and didn’t seem to notice how crazy-nervous I was.
I looked down at my math book and the piece of paper I was supposed to be writing on. I had only gotten as far as writing my name and the assignment on top. I was far too nervous to start any problems. Instead I tapped my pencil on the table and started playing with my calculator.
Five minutes after study hall began, I heard Lilo approach. I knew it was him without having to look. I knew I should have felt almost relieved, but there was a little voice in my head telling me to run. The little voice was telling me that I didn’t make the team. At that moment, before he arrived, I knew that the only escape would be to run back home; home to Terror Mountain, home of my old team. But something kept me glued to that chair; something kept my legs from moving. Whatever that something was, it kept me immobilized.
I slowly lifted my chin and angled my shoulders to look up at Lilo. He was standing there, with his goofy crooked smile. I felt so small and scared, even though he looked like he had... good news.
“Yeaah, ya won’t be a starter. Yer gun’a be uh.... Y’know, filler, backup,” Lilo stammered out in his deep accent. He seemed so cool and nonchalant about it, as if it was not the biggest news ever. Little did he know, it was the biggest news I had ever heard.
I wanted to jump out of my chair and hug him, he had made every insecurity of that moment go away. I opened my mouth, ready to say all types of wonderful thankful things, but I didn’t really know how to put it. So, I started simple: “Thanks! When’s—” that’s as far as I got before my squeaky voice was halted by a more mature, familiar voice; Laura.
She was leaning forward in her chair, her elbow resting on the table as she held her chin up with her hand. “Ohhh, hi Lilo...” she started, batting her eyes maliciously. Lilo looked over at her, curious to what she was doing in our conversation. “You’re the best yooyuball player!” she said, twirling hair around her pointer finger.
I rolled my eyes, and thankfully, Lilo cut back in, speaking to me. “Practice is firs’ thing afta school,” he told me and started to walk away. Before he was out of earshot, he gestured to Laura. “An’ thanks.”
After he had left, I was still dumfounded at what had happened. I had really, sincerely, truly made the yooyuball team. I had made the team after a small, not really tryout-esque tryout. It must have been Dayla that convinced him—she was so wonderful. I would have to thank her later. I owed so much to her already, for the yooyuball game and this.
I snapped back to reality when I realized that Laura was trying to make contact with me. She was tapping my math book with her pen, and had a confused look on her face. In a very serious tone, she asked me, “What was that about?”
I almost did not want to respond to her. All this time she was mean to me and tried to keep me down, but I knew there was a chance of redemption in her, so I responded in the best way I could, “I made the yooyuball team.” My squeaky voice cracked from my fear of talking to her, but she did not seem to notice or care.
This obviously shocked Laura, because her eyes flew even open, and she began to bite on her nails. “Wha-what? We’re not allowed on that team,” she argued, her Kyrii ears twitching. She noticed that she was chewing on her nails and pulled her hand from her mouth quickly. Blushing, she put her hand back on her history book.
By this time, I had noticed that she was actually a genuine person with insecurities, and it shocked me how easily they filtered through her confident shell. I no longer needed to be brave to communicate with her as I responded, “I had a friend talk to Lilo...” I took a breath to recollect my thoughts and word the next sentence, “...to help me get a tryout.”
Now Kevin, the Gelert sitting at our table, was interested in our conversation too. “Huh? Cartoon voice made the yooyuball team?” he asked, purely in shock. I was taken back from his comment. Sure, a lot of pets were calling me that, but I had been in such a state of glee that I didn’t think anything would cut me down. Obviously, I was wrong.
Not to be rude and not respond to him, I bit my lower lip and nodded shyly. I didn’t feel like talking. I looked down at the table, staring at my math book. I had just been so happy, and I fell harder than expected into a pile of woe. Out of the corner of my eye, I witnessed Laura give Kevin a dirty look. This hardly made me feel better, but it did something to make me trust Laura more.
The bell that said period change rang and I gathered my books quietly, making sure not to make eye contact with Kevin or Laura. I felt so small, like a mootix standing in the shadow of a grarrl. As I stood up and headed to the door of the library, Laura grabbed my arm.
“Hey—wait up. Don’t you have Natural Science next?” she asked, attempting to catch up with me. Laura was smiling, and she was carrying her sparkly-covered books as if they were nothing at all.
I nodded, and tried to smile. “Mhm,” I told her, and diverted my eyes from her books to the floor. I was so short that my head barely reached her shoulders. I noticed that she bounced when she walked.
“I’m going to be a cheerleader for the yooyuball team,” Laura admitted, and I could feel her watching me and smiling. We turned down a busy hallway. “I was going to try out for the team, but when I heard we weren’t allowed I stopped thinking about having a chance still.”
I nodded again, still avoiding talking. But then I suddenly was hit by the fact that maybe she was a yooyuball player too, and I could talk to her a bout it. “You played...?” I asked in a quiet voice, trying to quiet my squeak. I looked up to her with interest, very curious.
“Mhm. I was a left defender in grade school,” Laura told me, as she wove her way through the crowd. I was a bit confused... why had she settled for a cheerleader when she could have fought to be a yooyuball player? Was she afraid of being refused due to her grade?
I asked a safe question next. “Do you like cheerleading?” I pronounced correctly now, abandoning muttering and allowing my squeak to reappear. My braces buckled as I spoke, rubbing against the back of my gums. I snapped my mouth shut; I was speaking too loudly.
Laura shook her head. “Yooyuball is much better, but I settled,” she told me as we reached our classroom. We quieted down and took our seats. Unfortunately, we didn’t speak again for the rest of the day due to conflicting schedules.
After the final bell of the day, I sprinted off to yooyuball practice. There was so much excitement that day that I almost forgot it. When I arrived, I suddenly felt very proud. I had worked hard to make it where I was. I had made the yooyuball team. I attached my shoulder and elbow pads, and clipped on my sling. I was ready to practice.
The coach did not really say much to me. I think he was embarrassed to have sent me away before, only to have me join the team.
During that practice, I met the team; they were all great. I mean, the forwards were a bit lacking, Lilo was matched with a weak comrade, and the other defender had a poor aim. The goalie was fair; I had played with better, but he could catch the yooyu, and that was his job, after all. The main teammates were a green Blumaroo, a yellow Krawk, a blue Pteri, a red Lupe, and Lilo. There was another backup with me, a yellow poogle who would fill in for a forward.
We ran drills for two hours, and I had never had a better work out. It was definitely intense; when we scrimmaged, even though it wasn’t a proper scrimmage, it felt almost like a real game with shortened teams. Everyone was ready to play their positions to their best abilities. After scrimmaging and running laps, the coach let us go for the night. Everyone seemed ready to quiz me or give me tips.
“Was your old team good?” the Krawk asked.
“Watch out to keep a good grip on the plain yooyus; they sweat,” the Blumaroo advised.
Lilo even added in, “The crowd gets uh... bored, so y’know... spiff it up.”
And the final question was, “What’s your name again?”
To be continued...