A nerd-alete describes a person who is a combination of a nerd and an athlete. Some of the kids on my older son’s football team made up the term in reference to him many years ago. It was said with that special kind of needling boy affection; a little bit of chiding mixed with a little bit of admiration. He was always a good student and got excellent grades, then took it upon himself to check up on his teammates’ schoolwork to make sure they would be eligible to play the game at the end of the week. Any students with a D in a class or too low of a grade point average would be barred from playing so my son made it his business to take the weak students in to their teachers and find out what work was missing, then have them sit there after school until the work was made up. He was like the team’s academic policeman.
I always liked the term “nerd-alete.” It fits me too. Sometimes people ask me what I do for fun. Let’s see…I make up physical challenges for myself (like seeing how many pull ups I can do by a certain date or determining what happens if I do two hundred squats in one day), I read, I research and I write. Hmmm….sounds like a nerd-alete to me!
I don’t suppose it would be a surprise to tell you that my younger son, who is 11 years old, is a nerd-alete too. He loves sports. He plays lacrosse and football but in his free time he studies survival manuals of all sorts…and builds things (survival shelters, spears, bows, traps, solar ovens). He’s currently trying to build his own foundry. According to him, “It’s basically a metal furnace.” This explains why we have aluminum cans stacked up in the living room. He wants to melt the aluminum and make ingots then mix the aluminum with a harder metal and then make a blade for a sword. I have little doubt he can actually do it if he has a little guidance and of course supervision. Good thing we can call on family friends who love challenges like this. They are an offbeat and brilliant group of metallurgists, rocket scientists, pyrotechnic experts, physicists and propulsion engineers…in other words a lot of other nerds who are willing and able to help him in his quest.
My older son was reflecting in the car one day. He said, “You know, Mom, being an athlete covers up a lot of nerd.” I had to smile. Perhaps one does provide cover for the other. At any rate, I tell them to embrace who they are…there’s nothing wrong with going through life as a nerd-alete!