Bit About Me Series – Late High School

Without a doubt this was the most defining period I can think of in my life. It is the point where I transformed from child to adult and became who I am today and became friends with most of the people I keep in contact with to this day.

2001 – Year 10 – Highs And Lows
2001 was a very strange year, full of many highs and lows. I guess I will start by addressing the low point… In August that year as part of our school sports program we were sent ten pin bowling for the afternoon. We were filed onto buses to take us to the venue and I proceeded to the second back row of the bus. Just as we were about to leave, this girl (let’s call her call her Celia for the sake of this story) barged her way and sat down in the seat next to me, pushing me over to the window and away from my friends. Evidently her boyfriend and his mates were in the back row of the bus. Celia was from the United States, she had an attitude that would most people up the wrong way that is for sure. She was moody and always had this snarl on her face. One particular memory I have of her was when we were doing ‘Driver’s Ed’ and she had a complete tantrum because she already had her licence and no one else did (I guess in America they get it at a younger age).

So anyway, I asked her a few times nicely if we could swap seats, that way I could talk to my friends and she could still talk to the people behind here. She refused and her boyfriend, let’s call him Brian (aka #1 Douche Bag), started to have a few choice words to say to me. Brian had a temper, I decided I would try and aggravate him even more by making inappropriate gestures and faces behind his girlfriends back. Let’s face it, this isn’t atypical behaviour for a fifteen year old kid. I’m not saying that it is anyway acceptable, but at the time I wasn’t really considering what I was doing and my actions were more directed at annoying Brian than they were at making Celia feel uncomfortable. One of my friends sitting across from me also got involved, perhaps a little more extreme than what I was doing. A few days later, pulling faces and making gestures no more obscene that what you would find in an American Pie movie landed me in hot water though.

I was called in for a meeting with some senior school teachers and was asked to explain what had taken place. I have to be honest, I had completely forgotten about the whole thing at that point. It happened that later on that day while we were bowling, Brian had attacked me physically and I thought that was what it was all about. When it came to light what it was really about I was taken aback and didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t really have any reasonable excuse or explanation for what happened. Blatant sexual harassment. The school took the decision to suspend me and my friend for a few days each. I walked home that day in shock, I’d never really been in any trouble before, I was a goodie two shoes, took pride in the fact I was so clean I had never even had a detention and then suddenly I was told I wasn’t welcome at school for a few days.

I accepted responsibility for what happened and that what went down was wrong and took my punishment. However, I felt and still feel to this day some sense of injustice when it comes to matters of school bullying and harassment. Throughout my school life, I was picked on my fair share (I probably did my fair share of picking too). Later in 2001 I was threatened to be stabbed with a screw driver while in a class and I had an incident where my clothes were set on fire and my friend was beaten up for his accent. Both of which went unpunished because of lack of evidence. In 2002, someone from school gave my name and address to the police, not once but twice when caught offending. I had to go down to the police station and sign statutory declarations to say that it wasn’t me and for a few months I was getting calls from police to my home, which wasn’t pleasant. I subsequently received an apology letter from the guy who did it, but that was little consolation. I mean there are numerous other incidents that I view as just as serious as what I was punished for and seemingly they were got away with. My real belief is that I was a victim of gender prejudice. When an incident happens within a group of guys, it is just “boys will be boys, sort it out”, but when a trans-gender event takes place, a school will look to make an example. For fuck’s sake, people selling and buying drugs during school got less punishment than I did and they were probably serial pests as well.

I think I’ve written enough about the whole incident/punishment and now I want to focus on the positive of the whole experience. I really did learn a lot about life and myself from the whole experience. I developed a deep resent for the school, the principal and some of the teachers that were involved. My outlet for this was resent was an attitude of ‘I will show them’. My friend that was also suspended left the school at the end of the year and this may have been one of the best things that ever happened to me. He is still a great mate, but at school, he was holding me back. I’m sure that he would say moving schools to one that fitted him a bit better was one of the best things to ever happen to him too. In the most important years of high school I had very few distractions and this great drive to do well and get the best out of myself. I don’t think it is any coincidence that once I started to develop a positive attitude towards life and success, things really started to go my way.

One of the high points of my life happened in 2001 too. My football team the Brisbane Lions, who I invest my whole heart into every single season, won sixteen games in a row to claim a historic premiership. To put things into perspective, my dad supports the Saints and their last premiership was in 1966. Needless to say, to be at the game that day and for them to win was one of the highlights of my life. The Lions went on to create a dynasty that may never be matched in the modern Era. The followed up their 2001 victory with repeat wins in 2002 and 2003; in 2004 they fell agonisingly short of the four-peat, losing in the Grand Final. I had the privilege to be at all four games, and got to witness my team win three trophies, when many people only get to see one in a lifetime.

2001 was also the year that I took up Rugby League; it is also the year I retired from Rugby League. It was an interesting cultural experience and an adventure travelling to all kind of weird places on weekends to play a very foreign game. I gained a heap of knowledge about the game the year I played, and I developed the belief that anyone who plays it at the highest level has to be somewhat insane. The size of some of the guys that were running around in the Under 16s was out of this world. Here I was, a skinny 70kg gangly legs, taking on 120kg New Zealand Maori, Samoan and Tongan boys every weekend. I’m not afraid to say it; there were actually times I was scared to take hold of the ball. The team environment was amongst the best I’ve ever been in though. I was this weird Melbourne kid who had never played Rugby league before and these guys had been playing it their whole lives. The brought me in, embraced me and taught me a whole lot and were accepting of my mistakes. The highlight of my time playing was the one try that I scored. I was playing on the wing; I called for the ball, the guy who had been the nicest to me the whole season could easily have scored himself but instead passed it to me so I could score one. By the end of the season, I could barely get out of bed without my shoulder slipping out of its socket, so it was apparent I couldn’t play anymore. I still have a deep passion for the game though and follow the Melbourne Storm fervently, going to most home games.

2002 & 2003 – VCE
At the beginning of year 11 of school, the two campuses of my school merged together. This saw an influx of new and exciting people. This was when I first met Emmy, she was one of the first people from the other campus that I became friends with. About a year later we started a romantic relationship that lasts to this day (five years later). So, without a doubt, that was the best and enjoyable development of the last two years of high school.

2002 was the year I really got into Economics, prior to that I was thinking my career path would lie in the IT area. The logical thought processes that are behind sound economics are what really appealed to my brain I think. My passion for this subject ultimately led to my good school results and my choice of University course. Who knows, if I hadn’t decided to take Economics that year I may be computer programming right now.

One of the things I really treasure about these times are memories from the house parties that were thrown in these years. I experimented a little with alcohol and decided it wasn’t for me; I would dress up in all kinds of weird stuff (wrestling costumes for instance) and just have a really good time. Whenever reflecting on these times my friends all say I was always off my face… quite to the contrary I was hardly ever drunk, I’m just a fucking weirdo socially inept donk, what can I say?

When a lot of people think back to me in the late years of high school one of the most prominent memories they will have is of Suburbanball. At the end of year 10 I discovered an informal street sport on the internet called Danball. It looked like my kind of game, so I set about getting some people together for a match. It was a real hit with the kids, and over time we developed a bunch of changes to the game and we re-named it Suburbanball.

The Suburbanball craze lasted a few years and went through many highs and lows. Through the wonders of the internet the game was spread to other locations around with world, with people setting up their own leagues. Back at home everyone eventually became too busy to get together for a game and the competition fell apart. I still play indoor Cricket and Soccer with most of the Suburbanball crew though.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

1 Comment + Add Comment

  • Awesome post.

    I think a lot of people were behind you with the suspension thing, and I 100 per cent agree that the punishment was unfair – considering what else was going on. St L’s didn’t really deal with crisises well I don’t reckon. But yeah, I guess it made you who you are today, so all life building.

    Suburbanball – we went all AFL and killed it with rules to stop the nuffies! Also the creation of a new team stuffed it 😛 I think there should be a Suburbanball reunion and a game played one weekend. I reckon we could get at least enough people for two teams. Tell Mike to wear lots of padding.

    Year 10 was an interesting year, in contrary probably one of the more funner ones for me in terms of lack of work and parties and stuff.

    You make me want to start a blog – but it will have to be kept private, so my enemies don’t track me down. haha.

    Keep up the blogging Reg.

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