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Playing for the Love of the Game

posted 1/17/2011 2:56:04 PM |
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This is a true story about the time I spent during my high school years playing basketball.

During my Sophomore year of high school...I quickly developed the habit of hanging out at one of the local parks after school. Not only was this park close to my high school and have a lot of really cute also had an awesome basketball court.

Technically....there was nothing overly special about this basketball court...but to a 10th grader...I thought it rocked. In playing at some of the other local courts...I had quickly found that a lot of worthy competitors hung out at this park and to me...this was the most important element in my choosing this particular park. It also didn't hurt that when it was pitch could feed the meters attached to the tennis court lights...and you would then have just enough light to make out the basketball rims.

If it wasn't pouring rain or snowing...or I wasn't rehearsing for a school play...this is where you would usually find me everyday after school. I quickly caught the eye of a fellow student because of my talent. We quickly embarked on a routine of meeting at the park for endless games of one-on-one. Now Philip was just happy to be playing a worthy his father had gotten transferred to Oklahoma from Texas...and he had missed basketball tryouts. And since we both lived and breathed basketball...we got along famously.

Our routine continued even through the coldest I had quickly discovered how easy it was to modify a pair of gloves. I would simply snip of the fingertips of the gloves...and I was good to go for at least an hour.

Philip and I quickly became fierce competitors. We would even razz each other during school by leaving notes in each others lockers. Now I'm not one to normally brag...but our talents were so evenly matched...that you never knew who was going to win the game. Philip's strength was in his drives and layups...but my strength was my 3-point shots and my defence skills. I also was fearless. I would steal a ball by any means possible. Even if that meant I would skin my knee or jam a finger in the process. Our basketball routine continued up through the early spring when we started noticing some new talent on the court.

Some of this new talent was part of a local college team. These college players had decided to hang out at our park during their off season to stay in well as to distance themselves from the college so that their games were more recreational in nature. I was just happy to have some new competitors to play with.

In the beginning...the college boys didn't know how good I was...and Phillip quickly saw a way to make a little bit of cash. Hey...what can I say? We were poor high school students that didn't make a lot of money at our part-time jobs. Anyway...whenever you play pickup games at a local're forced to choose whatever talent might be available for a game.

Philip's idea was simple. I would arrive at the park at little after Philip did...and I would make sure the college guys knew that I was interested in playing a game with them. Philip would then choose me when we were selecting teams...and I would look like I was not very good at dribbling. My favorite move was to dribble “accidentally” on my foot...and watch the amused expressions out of the corner of my eye.

At that point...Philip would wager a bet...and of course...after seeing me dribble on my foot...the college boys were more than eager to take Philip's money. Unfortunately...for the college boys...that only happened twice. The other 4 times...Philip and I managed to win. Eventually...we came clean because we found we really liked the guys...and I was starting to feel bad about deceiving people that I was quickly becoming friends with. The college guys just laughed and told us they had figured us out by the second game...but because we were so good...they continued to play us because it was fun. I was happy because I scored some extra gas money...and still got to play the game I loved.

Our weekday basketball games continued up through the end of school. At which time...I noticed that the college guys were no longer at the park on a daily basis. Philip and I would still meet at the park...or other surrounding play some pickup games. Sometimes we would wager bets...other times we simply played for the joy of the game. It was definitely a magical year.

By the time my Junior year of high school rolled around...I was finding myself stretched too thin on time with competitive speech and theatre. We still played for the well as an occasional pickup game at the park...but it just wasn't the same. No one was able to meet at the park daily. Philip had started another part-time job...and I continued to be pulled in other directions as well.

I eventually found myself playing solo whenever I got the chance...since Philip's and my schedule were rarely in sync. Occasionally...I would wager a bet for a little extra gas money...but I mostly just enjoyed shooting hoops solo.

Continued in the comments.

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Jan 17 @ 2:57PM  
By my Senior year...I was way too distracted by theatre obligations to spend much time at the court at all. Philip had already graduated the year he was away at college. I did happen upon a friendly game one October afternoon...and quickly realized it was some of the college boys I had played with the year before. And even though I was a bit rusty...I simply couldn't help myself by joining in on the fun. I seemed to remember getting razzed a LOT during that game because I missed half of my 3-point shots. But I really didn't care. I knew the game would eventually be over...and then that would be it for a while.

It was at that moment that I realized just how much I really loved the game. I really didn't care who won...or if I made a little extra gas money that day...all I really wanted was for the game to last forever.

Jan 17 @ 5:29PM  
Wanna play football 'n tackle each other??


Jan 17 @ 7:50PM  
My best friend and I used to like softball. Neighborhood kids would form 2 teams and we'd play 7 innings. Of course, during the school year, we were too busy with hanging out at arcades and partying to commit to school teams. But, I always enjoyed the summer games.

See? My life wasn't always about parties and wild rides....

Jan 17 @ 9:43PM  
Wonderful blog Kat !! It brings back memories ... not of basketball but of gymnastics .... sometimes I wonder how it is that we find ourselves too busy to do the things we love.

Jan 17 @ 9:59PM  
I had a lot of fun growing up playing sports. Played little league for 3 years when I was a kid. Played some baseball and basketball in my mid to late teens. I'm still a little active in baseball and basketball still today.

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Playing for the Love of the Game