Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hoop Dreams

It all started in my grade school gym class. I’ve had some strange things happen in this class, at least with my gym teachers. Perhaps one day I’ll talk about that.

Anyway, the whole incident started with the only male teacher in the entire school. I can’t remember his name, but he always took a special interest in me. We did those dumb things most young kids did in school. Butt soccer. Flag football. Gymnastics.

Girls’ gym was way worse than the boys’ physical education time. Has anyone seen a girl run after another girl with a football? No enthusiasm whatsoever. Football? For girls? Ewww.

(Actually, I played football - the rough and tumble kind - with the neighbor kids. Flag football just seemed like a wuss-ified version of the game. Pull a ribbon off someone? Please.)

Anyhow, other things we did involved playing with a large round tarp with a mesh hole at the top that we snapped up and down, causing it to billow out as we brought it down over ourselves and ran around in the darkness underneath, slamming into each other while changing positions in the circle. THAT was oodles of fun.

(And I recently found out some of my readers went to grade schools that didn’t have gym class. Believe me. Besides the tarp and the butt soccer, you didn’t miss much ).

I’ve digressed badly with this telling. Sorry, everyone. What I wanted to talk about was basketball. We played this too, although it really wasn’t basketball. Each student took a turn hoop shooting, standing on the free throw line and chucking the ball upward. Then they made their way toward the back of the line to let the next kid have a chance up.

Some kids did the classic “groin toss,” where they held the ball down between their legs and lobbed it up . . . and over the hoop onto the other side. A few of them did the “I don’t care” throw where they just flapped both arms out with the basketball getting no lift at all and swishing the bottom of the net. Two or three did the excited “bunny hop” on toes where they held the ball next to chins and hopped several times while throwing with all their might. The ball usually ricocheted off the backboard and smacked the forehead of the next kid in line.

I did the “Michael Jordan” pose. I held the ball with both hands, dribbled it at my feet a few times, took a deep breath, and then I released it with one hand while lifting to stand on my toes.

I snagged the basket again, and again, and again . . .

This impressed our gym teacher, to say the least. He got excited every time I stepped up to the line and counted every basket I made. Then he pulled me aside and told me he would enter my name into the competition.

What competition? Supposedly, all the nearby school districts had a hoop-shooting contest. He asked if I wanted to participate, I shrugged my shoulders, and he took that as the kids’ universal answer to every adult question.


So he signed me up. He told me to practice every day until the competition scheduled next month. I gave him a stare basically oozing with the words, “Practice? How?” I lived in a rural area on the slope of a hill. Where on earth did I have a basketball hoop? Where on earth would I get a ball? The first one I had ever touched was in gym class.

Sufficed to say, I went into the competition cold just like when I had shot the ball during gym class to get the teacher’s attention. No practice. No experience.

We were graded by the number of shots we made in a specific time and eliminated until reaching a final round. Everyone was separated into four groups with an adult grading our status. Then those groups were separated into smaller groups, and smaller, until they reached five people in each group. Once all the grading was done, they handed in the stat sheets.

There were four top place winners.

You have to understand. This was a competition for kids. So there were no real losers. Everyone won something. They had a bunch of trophies: gold, silver, and bronze. Every child left with a trophy.

Which do you think I won?

If you guessed gold, then you are wrong. I missed a few shots, which was to be expected with no practice. If you said bronze, then you are wrong again. I wasn’t THAT bad, although I should have been because of the same reason on why I didn’t win a gold trophy.

I won a silver. I was happy to win silver, since silver is just a shiny type of gray and I liked the color gray much better than gold. It was the first award I ever received for a natural talent I didn’t know I even possessed. I took it home and showed it off to everyone. My sister got jealous and broke the little basketball player figure on top. My father fixed it by welding a metal bar on the player and a hole through the plastic stand that he tightened with a screw. It still wobbled a bit, and loosened when jiggled.

And here ends my stint in the NBA, grade school style.


  1. Love that photo. You look so happy!

  2. Siver goes with your silver tongue!

  3. Loved the photo! The story also brought back some of my days in gym and sports. Most of my memories are of pain and fear; pain from being pushed to my limits and fear of the paddle! If that's gym, then kids should be so lucky as to have never experienced it.

    Probably why I'm such a couch potato today!

  4. 'Butt Soccer'?? Is that where the phrase 'ass kicking' comes from?


    And, if I were inclined to be my usual, mischievous self, I'd have something tongue-in-cheek to say about black kids and a natural gift for basketball. . .


  5. I used to love making baskets. My big brother taught me how. They didn't give us awards for making baskets, dang. You look so cute with your trophy. I won a trophy for a spelling bee once.

  6. Love this! Brings back so much to me! Thanks!

  7. Wow, that's pretty sucky of your sister. Congrats, though, imagine what you would've done with a little practice!

  8. That pic reminds me of when I was a kid. LOL. That wall and couch. Wow. That's cool you won.

    What's the age difference between you and your sister?

    Cute story. :-D

  9. That's a wonderfully amusing story, Michelle. So... Never went pro, eh? Oh well.


  10. Great story. That sucks that the trophy got broke, but at least dad made it all better, huh? See, and you could be making the big bucks right now prancing around in tight little shorts while you put a ball through a hole.

    Oh well, guess you better sell some more books instead :)

  11. Another good story. No longer play the sports, just try to walk whenever there is time and place. Prefer outside. Mostly watch our kids grow up, graduate and go on with their lives. Good times for all.
    Coach O

  12. Look at you *smiling*

    I hated gym - which is funny since I became a personal trainer in my 40's *laugh* - but that's different --Jr and HS gym SUCKED!

    I was good at short distance running though - :)

  13. I really enjoyed this story, Michelle!

  14. Aww, that's an adorable picture of you Michelle. You look so proud ! Sweet !

  15. Great post. Alas, I have no fond memories of gym class to share. i remember it of course... just not fondly. Glad to see you're back and hope things are coming together for you. Have been trying harder to make the rounds. So many blogs, so little time. Best of luck with all the changes. Respectfully Yours, Cricket

  16. THAT's the smile! Go girl!
    I remember throwing the ball like you described one group threw it...you called it the 'groin toss'....We called it the "Granny shot!" I'm not good at basketball...and I congratulate you, Michelle...thanks for a trip down memory lane...and keep smiling. It looks so good on you!

  17. Broken or not, I hope you still have the trophy . . . and that it's hidden behind a bunch of massive golden ones. Great story!

  18. sweet1 i'm glad you had some sort of gym related success. that whole class was utter torment for me for years. you are adorable with your trophy though.

  19. I'm glad someone enjoys basketball, because every kind of sport should be enjoyed by someone. Just, not me. I see by the paneling behind your adorable face that you are quite a bit younger than I am. Maybe I'm part of the generation that basketball skipped. I lived on a farm with level ground. Um, level sand. Anyway, loved the post. Thanks.


People want to comment here? Okay...it's your two-cents, Bub. Spend it wisely!


Related Posts with Thumbnails

ESPN NHL Standings