Dec. 7, 2005
Throughout the season an Illinois women's basketball player will post her thoughts on fightingillini.com in a weekly blog. In the fourth installment this week, freshman Lori Bjork talks about her first winning streak, getting an "off day" and reactions she gets when people find out she's trying to gain weight.
Dec. 7, 2005 Women's Basketblog - Lori Bjork
The team's current winning steak (the first of my collegiate career) has put me in a happy mood this week. This speaks volumes about how important basketball is to me because it takes a great bundle of joy to make a college student happy the week before finals begin. But, when dealing with competitors, one should never confuse the word "happy" to mean "content." To make this abundantly clear, you need only stop by our practice facility on our day off from practice. Quite simply, it would seem just as busy as any day with practice. The coaches are in their offices, poring over film and hashing battle plans, managers are breaking down tape, and support staff are busy organizing the team's future movements. (Since I will undoubtedly hear from all of these people about how I misrepresented their jobs in my blog, let me be upfront in saying that these woeful job descriptions are selling them all short). And what are the players doing? Many of us will stop by throughout the day to hoist some extra shots and pester the coaches (although there are times when I wonder if it is the other way around, especially as I watch my poor defensive footwork in super slow motion for the third time in a row). I haven't shot the ball well the last two games (this is a gross understatement, seeing as I haven't hit the broadside or the barn), so I am trying to get as many extra shots up as possible. I know people say quality is better than quantity, but since I can't seem to put a quality stroke on the ball, the least I can do is go for quantity.
In addition to hitting another jump shot this year, my other quest right now is gaining weight. (Before I move on, I want to ponder the reader's reaction to that last sentence; perhaps you reread it, or maybe you assumed I had left out the words "concerned about" before I uttered that dirty phrase "gaining weight", or maybe you just had come to expect such incoherent babble from me and thought nothing of it). In a society as hypersensitive to weight as ours, busting out the "I am trying to gain weight" line means you are also going to have to bust out some smelling salts and a good explanation. Most people seem convinced that it is a federal offense for a female over the age of 13 to consider gaining weight (in Texas, it might be grounds for capital punishment). For whatever reason (okay, I admit I do enjoy people's reaction), I seem to find myself busting out the line on a fairly regular basis. Usually, the exchange goes something like this:
Me: (Sitting down with four slices of pizza, french fries, and 2% milk)
"I will have to go back and get some dessert in a few minutes."
(see perplexed look on other person's face as they take inventory of my food selection and try in vain to see how that is possibly fitting into the parameters of that food pyramid the U.S. government says we are supposed to be following)
Other Person: (thinks to himself/herself: "do you think she confused `use sparingly' under the fats, oils, and sweets section with `eat daringly?'")
Me: (Realizing that other person is searching for something to say, or maybe just reaching for a copy of his/her diet for an intervention into my unhealthy lifestyle)
"Yeah, I'm trying to gain weight for basketball."
Other Person: "What are you talking about? You shouldn't be worrying about your weight." (this is the conditioned response of anyone who lives in our hypersensitive society that connotes weight as something to be feared)
Me: "Right now, I am not really big enough for the Big Ten level of play."
Other Person: "But you're almost 6 feet tall!" (this response is seemingly inevitable, for the average person considers me giant-like for a girl, apparently failing to realize that the Big Ten is not the 6 feet and under league)
Me: "The Big Ten is a physical league, and I need to put on some weight so I can protect myself. The coaches, nutrition experts, and I all agree. Otherwise I will just get knocked around and worn down." (okay, so I'll be honest, that is just me reciting the rhetoric I have been fed since I was a freshman in high school)
The idea of a female trying to gain weight is a very difficult concept for people to grasp because weight is always presented as being such a problem. Everyone hears about America's weight problem, and you can't turn on the TV without being inundated with commercials for weight loss products. I am still waiting to sit through a commercial for a weight gain product. I have certainly heard enough about my weight (or lack thereof), so I have just decided to have fun with it. When I was being recruited, I couldn't have a conversation with a coach without having to hear some variation of the line, "We need to get some meat on your bones." (I hate to burst their bubble now, because they always thought they were being so creative). I am quite convinced that I was deleted from some schools' recruiting databases simply because I didn't weigh enough. Of course I take an occasional ribbing for not eating enough when the team eats together at Varsity Table (although the few who have seen me operate at my maximum eating capacity have come away impressed by what I can hold), but I view it all as amusing and fun. I wish some other people would see weight the way I do, because then I wouldn't be the only one laughing at the lunch table when I bust out the weight gain line.