I soaked in the silence of the locker-room one more time.
I put on my bottoms, the skirt and pulled on the jersey. I pulled on my ankle socks and cleats.
The uniform never seemed to look cleaner. I pulled out a brush and combed my hair one, trying to make sure I looked really nice.
We were making an end of the year team photo with our conference championship trophy out on the field.
This photo was going to hang in the gym where all of the portraits of conference championship teams hung. Not in the auxiliary gym, but the big gym where the basketball and volleyball games are played, and where the boys have P.E.
If someone asked me when this season began how I'd like my picture hanging on the wall with me in a skirt, I would be looking for a rock to crawl under.
Not now. I look forward to coming back and saying "that's me!"
I took one more look in the mirror before heading across the hall to Coach Martin's office.
It was sad thinking this would be the last time I'd wear the uniform until next fall.
"Come in!" Coach Martin yelled after I knocked on the door.
"Have a seat Mr. Lacy," Coach Martin said. "You like nice. The girls are still getting ready. You know how they like to primp."
I rolled my eyes. I didn't have the courage to tell her I kinda-sorta picked up the habit from them.
"You wanted to talk to me about something?" I asked.
"Yup, I do Lucas," she said. "I was thinking about the game the other day. When Gina was tripped, she passed you the ball. You had the clearest shot on the goal. I even watched it on film to make sure. Why did you pass the ball to Jessi?"
"I thought they were about to close in on me," I said. "I didn't think I had enough time to get the shot off."
"That answer won't cut it, Mr." Coach Martin said. "I'm not only your coach, I'm your priest and its confession time. I want the real reason why you did it."
"The reason why Creekmore advanced to the championship was because they had boys on the team," I said. "I didn't want to take the shot because I didn't want anyone to say we won it because we had a boy on our team. We're a girls team and I wanted the girls to get the credit."
Coach Martin smiled.
"I thought you were going to say something like that Lucas Lacy," Coach Martin said. "I'm very proud of you for having that kind of attitude. But next year, if I ever see you passing up an open shot, I'm going to run out on the field and give you a kick in the pants."
Emily and Jessi put their arms around me as we walked out on to the field.
"Okay, I want the team to line up in front of the north goal," the photographer said.
The photographer told Coach Martin he wanted us in two lines.
"We've got seven seventh graders and seven eighth graders," Coach Martin said. "Seventh graders, I want you to sit Indian-style. We'll put the trophy in the middle. I want the eighth graders to stand behind them. I'll stand at the end of the line on the left. Coach Parker, you get on the right."
We took several photos before the photographer finished up.
"Before everybody runs off I want to remind you of the team banquet on Saturday at 6 in the cafeteria," Coach Martin said. "Each family brings a cover dish. I want everybody in Sunday best."
Emily raised her hand.
"Yes, Miss Crue," Coach Martin said.
"We waived the Sunday best rule for Lucas during the season," Emily said. "He got to wear a shirt, tie and khakis. What will he get to wear at the banquet?"
"That's his option," Coach Martin said.
Suddenly the girls started chanting "dress, dress, dress, dress!"
They clapped and cheered when I shrugged my shoulders.
"We'll help you pick out something, some of us have to pick something out for ourselves anyone," Jessi said.
"Okay, but nothing gaudy, nothing tacky," Coach Martin said.
"I'll wear a dress, but I won't wear any makeup," I said. "I draw the line on makeup."
"It's a deal," Gina said.
"You never cease to amaze me," Mom said when hearing the news.
"I've put up with spandex shorts, field hockey skirts, sports bras, a homecoming dress. I guess I'll put up with this, too."
"Thanks Mom," I said. "The girls will be here in a few minutes."
"Have you got any more surprises?" Mom said. "You're not going to enter any beauty pageants or demand to join the girl scouts are you?
"Come on Mom, get for real!" I said. "I'm not going to all of the sudden want to dress in drag all the time, geez."
Putting on the dress was a way for me to bond with my teammates. It also made me look at things from a different perspective.
I also looked at it as fun. Yeah, I know I'm different.
We filed into Jessi's mom's SUV and went to a place called the "Shoppe by the Creek."
Some of the girls hunted for dresses of their own. Jessi and Kim picked out a black and white dress for me along with a pair of black shoes called "ballet flats."
"That is tasteful," Jessi's mother said trying to reassure me. "It's not over the top."
"We've got a surprise for you after we're done here," Melanie Piper said.
The surprise was a trip to the mall and to a small shop called Claire's.
"Can I help you," the young lady at the desk said.
I rolled my eyes when Jessi said "we'd like to look at earrings."
"Come on Lucas, boys wear earrings," Gina said. "Besides, you just have to wear them to the banquet."
To their credit, they picked out a pair that boys would wear, a pair they thought would still go with the dress. They were small with little diamonds, or at least it looked like diamonds.
I was led to a chair that leaned back. The young lady behind desk put them in. It stung a little, but that went away quickly.
She then gave me instructions on how to care for my ears and the earrings.
"They look really nice on you!" the young lady said.
"I swear you look like your Aunt Paige when she was your age," Mom said when we got in the car. I was wearing the dress, the earrings and the necklace Coach Martin gave me during homecoming week.
"Mom, if Lucas gets to wear earrings, why can't I," my little sister Katie said.
"Lucas is a teenager," Mom said. "When you become a teenager, you can get yours pierced, too."
I rolled my eyes. I knew Katie was just trying to pick at me.
The cafeteria was packed. All of the parents, brothers and sisters were there. So were some grandparents. Some even invited friends. Some of the faculty members even came to show us some support.
"Ms. Lacy, how are you?" Coach Martin said. "Lucas has been a joy to coach. You have raised a nice young man."
"Or young lady, sometimes I get that confused" she said when I came wearing the dress carrying Mom's casserole.
"I'm beginning to get that confused, too," Mom said.
"Seriously, Lucas is such a good sport," Coach Martin said. "He has gone over and beyond the call of duty to walk a mile in his teammates shoes. I am so very proud of him."
I had fun talking to my friends on the team and meeting their parents, who were really cool about everything.
"Okay, it's time to give out our team awards," Coach Martin said after giving everyone on the team a plaque and medal recognizing our championship."
Gina, to no one's surprise, was our MVP and top offensive player. Jessi received the newcomer of the year award giving to a seventh grader each year. Kim was named our top defensive player.
"She gave up the fewest goals in the conference this year," Coach Martin said.
Then it came time for the sportsmanship award.
"I could have given this award to any player on this team," she said. "I've never coached a more unselfish group of young women...and man. They've put up with some extraordinary circumstances this year. But the recipient of this award is a special player. I'd already made up my mind to give this person the award, but nearly every other member of this team came into my office to personally nominate this person."
Suddenly I saw most of the girls turn and look at me.
"The winner of the sportsmanship award is Lucas Lacy," Coach Martin said. "He is a true gentleman, who as you can see tonight, went through great lengths this year to be one of the girls both one and off the court."
I was stunned by the standing ovation and was in tears when I went up to receive the award.
"I'd like to get all of my players over here to get a picture of them," Coach Martin said, leading us to a corner of the cafeteria.
Coach Martin lined us up. She and Coach Parker joined us while several parents snapped pictures.
I looked up and saw the banner.
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirts, Conference Champs 2009!"