“Build a what?”
“A sports complex” came the reply.
“What the hell for?”
“The students. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body.”
“With what money?”
“Well, we have money left over from building the school.”
“Will it be enough?”
“We also just received several very large donations from wealthy parishioners.”
“Why so big?”
“There’s lots of national, and international teams that pay big bucks for young talent.”
“Why don’t we use it to fix up the monastery instead?”
“Well, now. What fun would that be?”
— A purported conversation between Bishop Canterling and an unknown person from St. Catherine’s financial office.
The Japanese instructor was a very, very pretty Sister named Angela. Kato guessed that she was probably in her late twenties. He wasn’t going to ask, of course. She had the students continue the lessons in their workbooks and then pulled aside Kato and Murata. Despite her age, Kato felt that she must be well-read. She kindly and patiently ascertained their skills and brought them up to speed with the class. Sister Angela had a great sense of humor and Kato and Murata were in stitches a few times. Kato felt that he would really enjoy this class, therefore, time flew, and class ended.
All students were now to report to the Sports Complex for the final class of the day. Kato got up and made a start to the door but stopped for a moment to look over to make sure Handa wasn’t close, which he wasn’t. Handa was talking with other students in the corner of the class. Kato wondered how a guy like that could have friends.
He felt a strong, but gentle hand clasp his shoulder and he turned to see Takahashi say with a smile, “Let’s go.” Just at this time, Murata approached and smiled at Kato, then his face became serious and looked down to avoid eye contact, making a full 45-degree bow to Takahashi and nervously spoke a very polite, “Hello, Takahashi-san.” Takahashi replied with an almost indifferent tone, “Hello,” and gave Kato a gentle push to start moving. The three left the room and Takahashi lead the way to the Sports Complex while Kato and Murata followed a few steps behind, chatting the entire way.
It was almost a 15-minute walk to the Sports Complex. It was located just over a half of a mile (1 km) from the monastery. The enormity of this complex was astounding. And there were lots of older teen boys streaming to the complex. On the way, Takahashi had explained that Grades 9 through 12 all meet at this complex. They would be expected to meet and play with and against upperclassmen and lowerclassmen. It would be a friendly, but competitive environment.
Both Kato and Murata looked around in awe. There were baseball diamonds, football* fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, and much more. Kato figured it could easy accommodate all the grades at once. Takahashi, acting as the tour guide, went on to point out the many buildings; this one contains an Olympic-sized swimming pool, this one contains indoor sports like racquetball and ping pong (making Kato’s ears twitch in delight), that one contains more indoor sports like volleyball. He even mentioned archery and sumo. There was much more Takahashi was talking about, but Kato couldn’t absorb it all; he was thinking about ping pong.
[* soccer, not American football]
“Hey,” Takahashi said, looking over at Kato. “You listening to me?”
“Yes,” he lied.
“Then what did I just say?”
Kato’s eyes met Takahashi’s, but he couldn’t think of something.
Takahashi just sighed and replied, “I would have preferred you to have just said no. We’ve got to work on your honesty training.”
Kato looked down embarrassingly.
“You will have to attend orientation.” Takahashi pointed to a building and said, “Go now. I’m assigned to baseball today. I play shortstop. See you later.” He turned and walked off towards the diamonds.
Well, you didn’t have to be so snotty about it, Kato thought. Kato looked at Murata and they both walked to the building and entered. The orientation was attended by about 12 students. Kato was surprised there were that many students that showed up on the same day as he did. Then he remembered that they were from all grades.
He had to choose three sports that he either was good at or at least wanted to play. Kato was actually very fond of any sport that had a ball and a something to smack it with; and he was fairly competent. A few years ago, Kato would hang out with some friends at a local youth club and play. He put ping pong first, of course. His second was racquetball, and his third tennis. It was explained to him that a schedule would be created for him that focused on these three sports, but he would still be exposed to all the sports available here. There would also be light weight training, swimming, running, and the like. This suited Kato fine. He had always been full of energy and he was happy to have an outlet for it. It was also explained that the class ended at 4 o’clock leaving an hour for students to finish up, clean up, put equipment away, and still make it back in time for the evening meal.
After orientation, Kato reported to the indoor sports building with the ping pong tables. Murata had also chosen that as his first. There were many, many tables, and many, many players. Kato was pretty excited. The room was gigantic. He met the instructor of the class, a student who was Grade 12. After the polite greetings, Kato and Murata had to jog warm-up laps around the perimeter of the room for 5 minutes, do some stretches, and then they could check out some paddles and balls and start playing.
A year without playing was nothing to Kato. It was like he had just played yesterday. It felt so good to stretch and work those muscles and reflexes. He also broke a sweat. Murata was much better than he claimed to be. It was all Kato could do to keep up, but he enjoyed the thrill of battle. Kato was having so much fun, sweating profusely, and laughing so hard. Murata was actually quite a witty, and funny boy.
The chime signaled the end of class. Kato and Murata put up the equipment and headed out of the building. Kato looked towards the baseball diamonds, but it looks like they were still playing.
“Just go,” Murata said.
Kato looked at Murata, who nodded towards the field. Kato looked back at the field for a moment. When he looked back, he had saw that Murata had already walked a fair distance back to the monastery. Kato ran to catch back up with Murata, half jumping on him, half tackling him. The boys laughed and continued the trek back.