This is apart of my book I’m writing. Enjoy.
Seventh grade was a huge turning point for me. That sounds cliche and quiet silly that my whole life would be changed by a single grade or year or whatever. There is no denying it. I changed my life that year. I decided I would play a sport. Now, being bigger than most kids my age (Well, being bigger than any kid any age in my school), most kids would doubt my ability in and out of the gym. Well, I was a force to be reckoned with. I was a beast and knew how to give bloody noses.
I chose basketball that year for my first sport. Originally, I wanted to play volleyball, but, after the incident in choir, I didn’t feel like taking up the sport where my bullies dwelled was a great idea. Basketball was cool. Michael Jordan was cool. In 2000, MJ was rumored to be coming back to basketball. He was my childhood idol and made one of the coolest movies known to man. We still watched Space Jam in our parties after school while dancing on dining room tables and wearing rainbow toe socks. My dreams of becoming “like Mike” were big, and I had big plans to be the first woman to dunk.
At tryout, I was sized up from the beginning. I was the youngest of the young meat. I didn’t really know how to dribble or that I couldn’t stand in the key for more than 5 seconds. All I knew was that I wanted to be apart of a team and wanted to make my parents proud. I wanted to have something in common with my brother and dad. I wanted to be an athlete because that meant I was fit. I wanted something to be apart of me I would never forget. I wanted fame. I wanted the fans. I wanted meaning.
We ran, sprinted, ran some more, and sprinted some more. We did jumping jacks and squats. We listened to “What is Love?” over and over again as our coach yelled out silly things that didn’t make sense at the time. This was not basketball. This was war. This was my body telling me that it was done. If this is what basketball is, then I do not want it. I do not want it anymore. It is not worth the panting and spitting.
So, the next day, I was going to quit. We started running and sprinting and dribbling and squatting. We ran to “What is Love?” and ran some more. As we were being dismissed for a quick drink of water, with the beads of sweat dripping down my chin, my thoughts formulated on how I would break it to Coach Gilman that I did not want to be here anymore. How could I formulate my thoughts while my lips were shaking? Just as I was about to open my weary mouth, the basketballs were brought out. That was the moment I fell in love with the basketball. It would not replace the lonely hearts club captivating my tender soul. It would replace the idle times between homework and dinner. It became apart of my soul forever.
I wasn’t the best basketball player at first. I was awkward and annoying and kinetically behind. The thing that set me apart was my heart. My heart was in the game. My heart was in the adventure. And nothing could beat the feeling of making your first basket or committing your first foul. There, I answered what is love? You want to know how?
My first basketball game was the day I realized I could never go back. Our small private school was one of many private schools in the Pacific Northwest that was just like ours but with different school colors and mascots. We all had the same hair cuts, clothes, and similar uniforms. We were equally matched. We went through the first three quarters without much of a fight. Fourth quarter came. I was making lunch dates with the bench I was warming up. I hadn’t even tied my newly bought basketball shoes. That’s when I heard my name.
“Gilfoy, get down here.”
It was like ring woken up from a dream. Except, the only difference, this was a basketball game and I was about to make my seventh grade debut. And I was about to miss my chance. I tripped over my shoes on my way to the court. I had no idea which side the basket was. I forgot what I was doing. As I was running on the court, shoes untied, gravity got the best of me. Instead of falling forward, I fell backwards and on another girl. Before the clock had even started, I had taken out the center of their junior high basketball team. She screamed and started bleeding from the nose. I broke her nose. I broke her nose before I was even in the books. I broke a girl’s nose I didn’t even know. And I felt so accomplished. The ref didn’t know what to do. So, I played. I missed my one shot, but I didn’t care. I broke a girl’s nose. It was awesome.
Basketball became my first love. And eventually, it would hurt me, hurt me, more and more.