Tuesday, January 26, 2010
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.