The Class Jock

By Sylvia Nablo de Vasquez
Cayo, Belize

The Class Jock

It was grade eight, and I was the class scapegoat. People become scapegoats for any number of reasons; for me, it was that I was new to the school and very naive. I was brainy, much too trusting, bad at sports, didn’t care about wearing the latest styles and couldn’t afford them even if I had. Quite simply, I didn’t know how to be cool.

The only kids who were nice to me were so because they wanted something. In one case, it was a science project in which I did all the work and my partner shared the good grade. It was a miserable year.

It was winter in Regina, Sask., Canada, and gym class was held inside. We were playing basketball, and I played it as poorly as I did any other sport. I didn’t know the rules, and nobody explained them. If I somehow managed to get my hands on the ball, inevitably the referee would call “Traveling!” Then the ball would go to the other team, though I didn’t know what I had done wrong.

I liked sports, even though I wasn’t good at them, so I’d eagerly run up and down the court with my team. One day, I found myself at the other team’s basket across the hoop from my teammate, class jock Kelly Serge.

Kelly and I hadn’t held a single conversation the whole year. The class jock had no reason to talk to the class scapegoat. I never imagined he was any different from the kids who had been humiliating me all year, so I waited for him to make the easy shot.

He didn’t. Instead, he tossed the ball to me.

I caught it, stunned. Then I got myself together and willed myself to make the basket. I threw the ball. Too high. Kelly caught it on the other side. I was so disappointed, but again I waited for him to make the shot. The class looked on as he again tossed the ball to me.

I couldn’t believe it. True, he didn’t need to prove his skill, but he knew that being nice to me wouldn’t increase his popularity. I was determined to do better this time. I eyed the basket, felt the ball in my hands, and sent it up. It went in. Kelly grabbed the ball under the basket, gave me a grin of approval, and threw the ball back into play. It was such a little thing. Kelly gave me two chances to make a basket when he could’ve easily gotten the points himself. He risked embarrassing himself and losing the game. For me, a lonely 13-year-old, it was everything.

Kelly and I never became friends, but now, 19 years later, I still wish I could tell him: “Kelly, from the bottom of my heart, thanks.”

Originally published as HeroicStories #292 on April 1, 2002

9 thoughts on “The Class Jock”

  1. What a warm, wonderful story and what a wonderful memory for him. Makes you wonder if Kelly remembers also or if he was such a nice person that it’s was simply one of many good things he did for others.

    • Hi, It Kelly. I contacted Sylvia and let her know that I remembered doing that. I thanked her for her story as it was heart warming. I didn’t realize that a small gesture would have such an impact on her. We kept in contact for many years after she wrote this story. She lives in Belize and the internet connection there is quite expensive. We have since lost contact with each other. Over the years God has blessed me with many special people, Sylvia was one of them.

      • Thanks so much for the follow up, Kelly. I really appreciate hearing your perspective and hope you are able to re-connect with Sylvia.

  2. Great story. I ran his name through Google and there are 4 people with that name in LinkedIn. Perhaps he’s one of them and you could get in touch?

  3. What a wonderful story. I would love to know more. Did it change how the author interacted with other students? Did the author decide to learn the rules so as to play better? Can we have a follow up?

    • I’d love to have follow-ups on all HeroicStories stories. Unfortunately I don’t have the author’s contact information. As always, I hope that the author finds us, stops by, and leaves a comment with that update.

    • We are constantly asking for and taking new submissions, and we publish them as we get them. But based on the submission rate we’ll be republishing older stories quite a bit. Many long-time subscribers still appreciate the hope and positivity the stories represent regardless of their age. The stories are, of course, all new to new subscribers.

      If that doesn’t work for you, I’m sorry, but it’s what I have to work with. We’ll be sorry to see you go. Best wishes.

  4. A story to prove that courage in the face of what seems at the time like extreme circumstances, can pay off. Courage to Kelly for ignoring the rules of peer (mis)behavior, and courage to the author for pulling herself together to hit her target. Angels appear in all kinds of shapes and forms, including unlikely humans. Kelly was one on that day.


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