A Really Great Basketball Moment

I walked into our high school's gym on my first day of basketball practice knowing that this was going to be a great season. All I wanted was to be captain. I was the only returning senior, my teammates all seemed to like and look up to me, so it was in the bag, right?

Wrong.

By the end of our second practice of the day, two juniors were named co-captains and my world was crushed. Looking back at it now, I'm not sure why that was so important to me but it was and all I knew in that moment was that I didn't make it. (Of course, me being me, I felt like I had failed.)

That first day of practice was just the beginning of a season of hell for me. I had to do every sprint drill at least twice because I always finished last. I was yelled at, told in front of the whole team that I had no athletic ability, and made fun of for being so clumsy. All by my coach.

Yet, I was always the first on the court and the last one to leave. I loved it. I loved the game. I loved watching the game and breaking it down in my head. I loved getting the chance to get in the game. I loved my team.

Those were some of the best moments in high school for me. I looked forward to every practice and every game because these girls were my friends. They were, for me, my sisters. My senior year, I became the big sister, and maybe that's why I wanted to be captain. I wanted everyone to know I was the big sister.

What I didn't know was I didn't need to be captain for every one to know that.

The last home game of the season was senior night. Out of the kindness of her blackened heart, my coach decided to let me start. Before the game, I was to walk while holding my parents' hands to center court. I was at the end of our bench talking with my parents when all of a sudden I realized that the whole gym was chanting.

I got chills on my arms when I realized that they were chanting my name.

My teammates (and all of the cheerleaders) had lined up in two lines on each side of me. It took me ten minutes to get through those lines because I hugged and/or high fived all of them. When I hugged the last person, I looked up and every single person in the gym was standing and clapping. For me.

They gave the clumsy, slow, no talent, short, sometimes playing point guard a standing ovation.

That had to be the greatest night of my basketball career. (OK, no. I'm lying. The best night of my basketball career was a rec club game. I scored twelve points in a championship game, and my varsity coach asked my rec club coach how did he get me to play so well. His answer was, "I don't yell at her.")

I think about that night now and I always smile. I can close my eyes and replay ever single step I took. I see their faces and just how proud they all were of me. And it also makes me wonder why it's so damn hard for me to just be proud of myself.

I'm really going to work on that. If a couple hundred people could be proud of me for simply showing up to represent my school mostly by riding the bench, then certainly I can be proud of myself more.

Yep. I really think I can. No wait! I really think I am.

Yeah, that's better.

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2 comments:

Kirsten said...

Thanks for making me all teary on a Sunday night. You are awesome and I hope you honestly are proud of yourself, because you have so much to offer. You are a Treky nerd (which I'm not but I have many friends who are & I love them to pieces), you have awesome artistic talent, you are funny, and honest, and just overall an amazing person. I'm proud to call you my friend. Smooches, hooker.

Heather Anne said...

I also had a basketball experience or two in high school, and it's so surreal for me to look back on it now and juxtapose what I THOUGHT was important with with ACTUALLY turned out to be important.

It kind of reminds me of what Hermione said to Harry near the end of Sorcerer's Stone: "Books! And cleverness! There are more important things -- friendship and bravery." Only instead of "books and cleverness," it would be "points and rebounds." Books and cleverness and stats and accolades are all good. But friendship and bravery really is the main thing, huh? I don't think most people ever figure that out.

Anyway: Gryffindor, is what I am calling you here.

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