Y – A YEAR for Tulani – 1996

This is my tenth A to Z Challenge. My first was in 2013, but I missed 2021. This April I am going through the alphabet using snippets about my family through the generations.

My daughter Tulani homeschooled for her middle and high school years. At that time the Baldwin Schools allowed homeschoolers to participate in sports and some other school activities. This is an article she wrote for our family newsletter Ruff Draft about her senior year.

Tulani’s Year

by Tulani Williams
From The Ruff Draft – Spring/Summer 1996 page 10

Tulani in Houston, TX

This is my senior year in high school, and I can say that this year I did it all. I played varsity basketball, volunteered at the veterinarian’s clinic, was a cheerleader for boys basketball, took a trip to Houston, am running track for the fourth straight year and I even attended the Prom!

In the fall, I was on the varsity basketball team. I played shooting guard. Although I am not much for shooting or dribbling. This was my first time ever playing organized basketball and at first it was a little confusing. All the new plays and all the baskeball jargon, but I caught on. We had a rough season. Lots of girls quit and by the last game there were only six of us. The referees were a constant problem. Wherever we went, they seemed to be against us, even on our home court. We lost a lot of games that we should have won, but at the end of the season we picked up our game and played like we knew we could. We blew out a team that had beat us by more than twenty points the last time around. We even made it to the second round of the playoffs. This is something that a girls team from Baldwin, hasn’t done in awhile. But then the referees got to us and we lost the second round. I enjoyed myself this season and I’m glad that I had a chance to play.

Since I enjoy being around and working with animals, I am considering a career in veterinarian medicine. I had the opportunity to observe at the clinic where I take my dogs. The staff at the clinic was more than happy to have me hanging around. My first day I witnessed a spaying. The operation was preformed on a dog. She was a small white toy poodle. She was frail enough when she was fully alert and trying to bounce off the table. After she had been sedated and laid out on the table, she looked near, if not completely, dead. The doctor started the surgery, telling me that if at any point I felt uncomfortable I should leave. I assured him that I was fine. Well, it turned out that the combination of smells, the little dog laid out spread eagle on the operating table and the whole idea of cutting into a living animal and taking out her insides, was a little too much for me. I felt faint and quickly moved away from the operating room.

After that first incident I got used to the whole process. The smells no longer made me nauseous and I even had the opportunity to help with some of the operations. I didn’t get to do any of the cutting or anything as major as that, but I did get to hand the doctor the suture material and other tools. Having this experience was very good for me. If I do decide to major in Veterinarian Medicine, I will already have an idea of what I will be working towards doing.

During the winter I was on the boys basketball cheer leading team. I was, as several of my friends told me, the worse cheerleader Baldwin had seen in awhile. I’m sure that had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really care about what I was doing. I never really took the time and effort to perfect all the cheers. And it was impossible for me to look at cheering as a sport, like some of my teammates did. Because to me it just wasn’t.

The first two weeks in April, I had a chance to go down to Houston, Texas. I visited my grandfather Jaramogi, and my sister Ayanna. I stayed with Ayanna. While I was there I went to class with her. She is attending Texas Southern University. Her health professor was a real idiot. He told the class that it was just as good to drink six cups of pop a day as it was to drink eight cups of water. Or, he said, if you had a gallstone, perhaps it was better to just drink beer! Her English professor was sort of a ditz, she treated the class as though they didn’t know anything at all, but it wasn’t really their fault…after all, most of them were black. Her math professor was good. She explained things well and I understood what she was saying.

While I was there, I also went to a movie with my grandfather. I don’t remember what it was we were supposed to go see, but we saw Fargo. It was sort of a sick, psychopath, murder, comedy thing. We all agreed it was the worst movie we had seen in awhile.

All in all, I had a great visit. It was hot, but they all told me to come back in June, and the tree’s were all out. Houston seemed like a nice enough place, aside from the horrible smog on overcast days. It was very nice to see my grandfather and sister.

Tulani’s prom photo

Then, I went to the prom. Up until the day of the prom I really had no plans to go. Then at four thirty (prom started at eight) a female friend called me and asked if I would go with her because she really wanted to go and her date had backed out at the last minute. She really wanted to go, but didn’t want to go by herself. I told her that if she could find me a dress I liked then I would probably go. She called me back and had two dresses she’d found. She assured me that if I didn’t like them, she would find more. One was an awful bright red thing. It was short with two odd ruffles and a tight bodice with spaghetti straps. The other was a nice dress, it was the one I wore. It came down to about the top of my knees. It was black and white with a white ruffle. Prom itself was quite boring. Mostly people just came and took pictures of each other and sat around trying to look glamorous. My friend and I both decided as we drove home that we had just wasted quite a bit of time and we agreed one thing for sure, we wouldn’t be going back next year!

Tulani running track

Now I am running. This year the girls team is very small. There are six of us total, but only one of us is really there to run. That would be me! The rest of them are there because they have a boyfriend on the team or there is a guy they like on the team and they want to keep an eye on him. So on the rare occasion that they do come to practice, they usually sit around on the field and discuss their problems. Needless to say I am concentrating on my personal events this year – the 100 and 200 meter dashes. I am supposed to be on the 400 relay, but I refuse to run with girls who refuse to practice. We have already had two meets and I am undefeated in my personal events. The girls relay came in second at one meet and first at another. I ran anchor (last) in both meets. Our next meet is a big one and hopefully the weather will cooperate and it won’t be canceled. This year I am hopefully going to be competing in the state meet. There is a good chance that I will be all conference and first in our regional meet. I am spending a lot of time working on my starts and trying to cut down on my time in the 100. My personal best is 12.3 seconds. If it would get down just a little warmer and the wind would die down, I should be able to run at least a 12.0 flat.

Next fall I will be going to Central Michigan University.

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter Y

11 thoughts on “Y – A YEAR for Tulani – 1996

  1. A great journal to remember her time in high school…the highlights at least. It is not like a diary in many opinions and feelings, nor hopes and fears! Except maybe the difficult teachers and coaches…which all high schoolers have. Love that she experienced a prom. Yep, that’s about it. A whole lot of hype for some dancing (if that’s what you like) and lots of looking at each other.

    1. I think she did more her senior year in high school as a homeschooler than I did as an in school student during my senior year.

  2. I enjoyed hearing Tulani’s voice in this piece. A strong, life-loving, independent thinker comes thorough. I loved her comments on cheerleading (which I completely agree with), her visit to Texas Southern, and her and her grandfather’s impressions of Fargo (which I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch and now I feel vindicated!). And I love her choice of prom dress!

  3. What a lovely way to document her high school days. I am impressed that homeschooling is given such serious thought to be attempted for higher classes. Kudos to you for managing her studies at home. Tulani seems to be a bright and enthusiastic child – wish her all the best for her chosen career.

    1. I should have put what she’s doing now up there. Tulani is now in her 40s. She has a masters degree in education and has been teaching for over 15 years. She’s married with two smart and enthusiastic offspring, who were not home schooled.

  4. Having just finished writing up my high school saga, I found this essay delightful! It showed the benefits of Title IX for young athletic women like Tulani — and yes, cheer leading can be challenging but is not the same as participating in an actual sport. Your daughter definitely inherited your way with words!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      She does have a way with words. I hope one day she will write that book she keeps talking about!

  5. Yeah, your daughter was definitely alot more active in high school than I was.

    I was going to ask what she was doing now, but you already answered that in an earlier comment. ????

  6. I loved meeting Tulani in her own words…a sassy, independent woman who would be fun to know. Love how she disses the girls who are only there for the boys. You should be a proud mama. So precious to have this story in her own words.

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