I’m not looking forward to next week.
There might be a couple of improvements. I won’t have to smear makeup all over my cheekbones and biceps and kneecaps to cover up bruises. I won’t wake up with a sore arch or aching shins. I’ll get home right after school and I won’t be exhausted and sweat-soaked.
But those are only minor perks, and they’re not doing much to cheer me up.
Next week marks the end of basketball season. The four winter months filled with basketball are easily the most tiring, the busiest and the most enjoyable time of the year.
For me, it’s rather ironic that I’m saying that. When I was in fifth grade, I hated basketball. That leather ball was a speeding missile aimed at pegging me in the face and embarrassing me when I least expected it. Shooting drills and sprints were necessary evils that led to water breaks and the best part of practice – the end.
There was only one thing that could make me step foot on a court that year: my dad. He pushed and prodded me on to that court every week, swearing that someday I would thank him for it.
Like always, he was right. I slowly began to tolerate basketball in sixth grade. That summer, I attended a summer camp at KU and suddenly, I actually liked the sport. The ball wasn’t out to get me. I scored occasionally.
I was still pretty bad- I couldn’t hit a jump shot to save my life and my layups weren’t terribly efficient. But I had a very strong desire to learn the game, to improve and try to become a true player.
That desire followed me to high school. East basketball was different than any game I had ever played- faster, more physical and much more competitive.
Somehow, by the middle of this season, I ended up on the JV team. As happy as I was to be on the team, I was extremely overwhelmed. The pace of the game had increased yet again, and practicing against Varsity led to more exhaustion and bruises than freshman or sophomore team combined.
Just looking at stats, this season shouldn’t have been fun. JV only won four games. We were often outscored and outsized. Our games were poorly officiated and filled with frustrated fouls and unnecessary turnovers. I hardly scored.
But my team made it all bearable- in fact, they made it extremely enjoyable. Instead of getting frustrated, the girls laughed on the bench and made fun of other players, making up nicknames for the ones who scored too much. They gave their all in practices, but often collapsed in laughter over someone airballing a shot or making a weird noise.
I’m going to miss a lot next week. I’m going to miss only being referred to as “Poe,” and walking into practice after school to see the guards throwing balls at each other. I’m going to miss team breakfasts and dinners and taking pictures of sleeping players on buses.
I’m going to miss this season. But even though I’m sad that it’s coming to an end, it’s good to know that I have two more amazing seasons to look forward to.
The countdown to summer season starts now.