I was very athletic growing up. Saying I was a tom boy would be an understatement. Growing up some of my mom’s friends warned her that I was going to be a lesbian–which is just another reason why people don’t understand sexuality. But that’s a different post.
I didn’t so much play organized sports as I played in the neighborhood every night until dark (and past if I could get away with it). In 6th grade I joined a basketball team and learned the difference between kick ball in the cul-de-sac and a team sport. It was intense and I loved it. I became obsessed with the sport and mom would even take me to bars restaurants to watch basketball games since she wouldn’t allow a TV in the house. She also took me to watch the NCAA Final Four for the women’s basketball.
I played the post because I was tall. I was a horrible post because I scored no very little points. I was better at defense. I remember the first time I made a basket during a game and I felt like I won the Superbowl.
For my traveling team that year we were playing a tournament and it was our final game. We were 5 points behind and the clock was near zero. Coach called a time out. She showed us the play she wanted us to run and it included a team member to shoot a 3 (which we hardly ever made, to say we were pretty bad would be generous). Then we were supposed to foul so they would shoot and miss (hopefully), we would rebound and go down for a 2 pointer and tie up the game to win in overtime.
We threw the ball in and got it to Liz (the person in charge of making the 3 pointer). She shot from far past the 3 point line and it was a wild shot. Time froze as we watched the ball near the net. It went in and we all were jumping up and down and celebrating, we had accomplished the first part of our plan, our coach was yelling FOULFOULFOUL. The buzzer signaled the end of the game before we were done celebrating and losing didn’t dampen our spirits. Our moods were high for the bus ride home and lasted for the rest of that day.
We didn’t tie. We didn’t take it into overtime and win. We quite possibly came in dead last for the tournament, but I remember the immense pride of coming together as a team and executing a plan that was a challenge for us. We didn’t believe that Liz would get the 3 when we needed and that was only if we got the ball to her, which was not a certain.
For me, that’s what sports are really about, in the best way. Where team work, triumph of the human spirit, and striving to always improve is more important and celebrated than winning. When I watched this video, I remembered those 2 moments in my years of playing basketball because it exemplifies the heart and spirit of sports.