In middle school, I struggled at the beginning of the year to fit in, to find the people I would really get along with. As a last resort, I turned to the basketball team to find friends and a place, to attempt, to fit in.
I’m Grace with a commentary from youth radio.
I remember my first basketball game in middle school. I was a scrawny, little, white eleven-year-old girl who couldn’t quite shoot the ball. I was short, lacking confidence, and terrible at this sport. In fact, because I was so weak I remember my coach telling me, if I had to shoot a free throw, I should shoot under hand, more commonly known as “grandma- style”. During that first game i played for probably less than three minutes, and of course had the opportunity for two free shots. The ref aggressively passes me the ball. I unstably grab it with two hands; dribble once, look up at the basket, just like I had seen all the pros do, dribble one more time and shoot with all of my strength. The ball soars through the air and misses. By a lot. All air. I wasn’t expecting to make it, but I also wasn’t expecting to miss so terribly. But I had one more chance. The referee passes me the ball again and I knew what I had to do this time. I look at my coach, she nods, I smile, dribble twice and shoot… “grandma style”. It gets into the basket then rolls right back out. Sadly, I didn’t make my first basket until I was an eighth grader in middle school. But oh, when I made that shot, I was overjoyed.
My peers taught me about aggression and how sometimes a little attitude on the court can intimidate the other team. I don’t really use that tactic I’m still afraid that the people I compete against are way stronger than me. To be honest, I couldn’t say something mean to someone when I don’t know them. Basketball taught me how to dribble, how to shoot- not grandma style, how to run fast, how to be competitive and not give up even when we’re losing, it taught me street skills, and how to not be a boring, scrawny white girl who’s afraid.
I am a sophomore in high school now and am a proud power forward. Through basketball, I learned how to be assertive and put myself out there in situations I was unfamiliar with; and that if I screw up I have time to improve, to practice, and attack the situation again. And trust me, with basketball, I practice, but sadly, I still kind of suck. Through all my effort and practice I was able to improve and learn a lot about basketball and life. Or simply put, I learned that ball really is life.
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