• Jae

Basketball - Losing & Winning

The radio on my truck is typically tuned to FM2 94.3 where I can listen to a pre-recorded program every morning on my way to work. There are no disc jockeys mucking up my listening pleasure with morning inanity. There are only a few, usually low budget commercial ads, by local businesses. The programming includes a mix of what the kids would probably call oldies and what I call new stuff. One of my favorite features of this radio station is the high school sports report. Its a programmed report of all the news worthy wins, losses, placements in regional or national tournaments for every kind of high school sport. Field hockey. Ice hockey. Wrestling. Basketball. Football. Tennis. Softball. Field and Track. Volley Ball. Gymnastics. Skiing. Even golf.

Listening to the report reminds me of my Mom and Dad who both loved sports.

Yesterday, on my way to work, while listening to the high school sports report, I was instantly transported back to those days where after sitting through oftentimes gruelingly boring classes, I'd run down to the locker room to change into my sports clothes. I hear the chatter, the clanging of metal locker doors, the coach's voice telling us to hurry up. I never needed any hurrying.

I have plenty of high school sports stories to tell but today's is about my illustrious basketball career, losing and winning.

I loved playing basketball. My Dad installed a hoop on the side of our garage at our house in Wakefield, Massachusetts. One of my most enduring memories is of my whole family playing on that court, even Mom. She was a really good basketball player. She played on her high school team. My Dad was really good too and so were my brother and sister. I was really terrible at it but I LOVED the game so when I got to high school, I tried out for the team. I didn’t make it of course but I wanted so much to be around the game. I became a team manager and score board operator. I got to feed basketballs to the players as they practiced their shots. I got to be with my friends. I got to be part of and serve in a game that I loved.

Luckily for me the Catholic Youth Association (CYA) team did not require try outs. As bad as I was, I still got to play! A favorite day of mine was the CYA parent/daughter basketball game. My Dad played on the parent’s team. He was awesome in his confidence, showing off his skills, making layups, making foul shots, dribbling and running fast, leading his team to stomp mine with their win. He laughed and smiled a lot that day. I loved that smile. I miss that smile.

Another team I played with that didn’t require try outs was the Castle Air Force Team. I was on the team for three years but only played in one very memorable game. We were up by 20 points and there was only about 2 minutes left on the game clock when coach put me in on our home court. The stands were full of Castle Air Force fans on one side and a smattering of the other team’s fans on the other. My team members knew this was a big deal for me, knew that I wanted to score a basket. So they kept feeding me the ball. I attempted at least a half dozen shots before finally getting the one and only basket I ever made in a real game. My team and our fans went wild. The other team was very confused. What was the big deal? Why so much cheering for this one basket? My team was made up of one the greatest group of friends I’ve ever known. I will never forget that game.

In ruminating about these basketball memories, the theme of losing and winning in my life comes to mind. I’ve lost most of my High School and Air Force sports friends, to distance and time. The most profound loss I’ve suffered is that of my parents. On the flip side though I’m lucky to have had them in my life for as long as I did, the memories I have of them, the feeling that they are still alive in those memories. That’s winning.

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