I constantly tell my younger daughter, “I never dreamed God would give me a daughter who is a basketball player.” There’s something about a junior high or high school basketball game that is magical for me. I think it’s because it brings back memories. I can’t really say my glory days happened in high school, but there was one time, lasting for about four months, that I talk about over and over again.
My family didn’t go many places, and we lived out in the country, so I couldn’t just get on my bike or walk to see friends. This particular winter, my mom and dad were excited about the basketball teams. I can’t remember at what point in the season we started going, but we went to every boys’ game, and a few of the girls’ games, that winter. The boys’ team went undefeated during regular season that year, and the girls only lost three regular season games. Both teams made it to Super Sectional. That winter, the saying went, that if you wanted to rob a bank in town, do it during a basketball game because the entire town would be at the gym. And it was about like that.
I remember one time, my family got to an away game so early that the gym was locked. We were the only ones there. We meandered outside until somebody showed up to let us in. Another time, the opposing team’s crowd brought newspapers and held them up like they were reading them while our team’s starting line-up was announced. Since we didn’t expect that, we didn’t have newspapers. When their line-up was announced, we all stood up and turned our backs. I remember us as thinking it was funny and all in good fun. We didn’t see it as something to start fights and have bad feelings. (I do not suggest doing that now as times have definitely changed.)
This was such a great experience for me, because for the first time, I was part of a group. We all followed the cheers, hollering as loud as we could, as if that would help the team to victory. We got mad at the refs for the bad calls and sat on the edge of our seats when the game was close. For the first time, I was part of something bigger than myself. It was one of the only times in high school I felt I truly fit in.
For the last two years, my current hometown’s girls’ basketball team has gone to Super Sectional. My own daughter’s junior high team made it to Sectional as did the team one year up. I would say to my friend, “I wonder what it’s like to run out there and have everybody standing on their feet, cheering and hollering for you?” That’s something most people will never experience.
Even though the teams lost at Super Sectional, they had experienced something a lot of people would give their right arm to experience. The experience of being on a winning team and having a crowd of people on their feet, all wanting to watch them play, all wanting them to win. Each team gave their home towns a great gift. The gift of being a part of something bigger than themelves. The gift of being a group of people, united in the common hope that our team would win.
Thank you to the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams of that year when I was in high school. Thank you for getting me out of the house (just kidding but not really), thank you for all of your hard work, thank you for giving me a love of basketball that will last a lifetime.
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