Monday, February 6, 2012

Masuk Basketball

Here are my seniors for 2012. I ended up returning for a second game in order to get a few more shots. The first game I covered was very close, so one senior didn't get a lot of playing time and another was home sick. I wasn't obligated to come back for another game, but I felt like I had to. I wanted each of those seniors to have a photo they'd be proud to look back on. Let me tell you why.

I grew up playing basketball and softball. I excelled in softball, spending my entire summer traveling to tournaments all over the country, but I loved basketball just as much. I went to one basketball clinic when I was twelve years old. It was an entire week long away from home and it was brutal. The first day, you were evaluated and it was decided that I was too advanced to play in my age bracket. They bumped me up to the fourteen year olds. I was placed on this rag tag team with the youngest coach at the clinic. We lost every single game. We were the worst team there. I remember my coach sitting me down after we were knocked out of the tournament. He told me I had heart and he could tell that I loved the game, but I didn't have enough skill. All the practice in the world wouldn't change that. He said he wished half of his players had my heart and determination. Who says that to a twelve year old? I don't think he had any idea I was playing up a bracket, but still. Way to shatter some dreams, you insensitive jerk. That was the last clinic I went to.

I was a point guard. I saw the floor, passed well, had a decent shot, was very calm and level headed. I could also box out, so often times I would out rebound people much taller than me. I didn't get a lot of playing time in varsity my freshman year, but I was a work horse at practice. I was a tough defender, so my coach usually had me play forward in scrimmages. I was the tiniest 5 foot 6 forward you ever saw, but I was scrappy. I developed a sweet little hook shot that opponents couldn't defend against. I was a bench player, cheerleader, I got the coach's award every year, but I didn't get a whole lot of playing time. I started one game as a junior, because the starting forward was sick and you better believe I scored the first basket of that game.

There was always a big production for Senior Night, the last home game of the year. It was planned by the underclassmen and it was a really touching affair. I was the only junior on the team, so a lot of the work fell on my shoulders for the seniors above me. I never complained because that's what you do, and the sophomores below me would be doing the same thing the next year for me. Or so I thought. At the end of every year, team captains were announced. I figured I would be a co-captain, to groom some of the players under me. The last practice of the year, our coach announced that there would be no captains chosen until next year, after tryouts. He pulled me aside and told me that he didn't plan on letting me play next year. His reasoning was that I spent too much time playing softball; he also threw in my marching band competitions as a distraction. I should have been devoting at least part of my summer training for basketball.

Now my high school wasn't known for our amazing sports teams, and I won't deny that I was much better at softball. I think it was an insult to have worked that hard for that long and to not have been recognized for my effort. I think that coach is an awful human being and I was hurt for a long time over that. But I got over it, and I think it has made me a pretty good person. One that wants to cover sports and is willing to go back and reshoot so that each senior has something they can look at and remember all their hard work.

So an extra shout out goes to the non-starters, the work horses, the players with heart. I think you're pretty darn inspirational, and you had me cheering for every little play you made.

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