I remember my first tip-off like it was yesterday. I entered the gym like I was a toddler in a candy store. I was so pumped to go against people that were older than me; but deep down inside, I was so worried I wasn’t going to play to my best ability. I figured playing with kids that are older than me, that they have been playing the sport I love the longer than me. So therefore, it wasn’t exactly going to be a walk in the park. My coach kept talking to me trying to encourage me, all I heard was the basketball bouncing once, and imaging me facing the opposing team, the ball going in the air and me standing ready to jump up like rabbit in the fields of grass. Remind you, I’m the only “young one “on the team so the other girls on the team are so calm and just acting like it’s just another game of the season.
Coach called the team over for the last time before the game started. “ You guys need to play hard. If you say you love this game then show it,” said he yelling in excitement.
“Yes sir,” the team said at the same time.
He was reminding us that we need to play strong and that every loose ball is ours. “ Get on the off to get all loose balls,” he said so serious that he face was so serious.
That’s a term basketball players use to express when the ball is on the ground. When a loose ball comes, we have to get on the ground and go for the ball. But back to the story, by the time the pep talk was done I was sweating bullets. I knew my coach was going to be mad if I didn’t win the tip-off. When I heard the refs blow the whistle, it was show-time!
I walked to the circle that is located in the middle of the court then I felt like I was trapped in that small circle. It felt the circle was choking me. The ref was about to throw the ball in the air so I got ready to jump as high as I could. Next thing I knew, I won the tip-off. My team got the ball and we ran down the court as fast we could. It didn’t even take 30 seconds for us to get 2 points. I was so proud of myself. I won a tip-off against a kid that has been playing basketball longer than me, much taller than me, and a few years older than me.
By the time half-time came around we were down by 3 points with 50.9 seconds left and it was our ball. Coach told us to drive to the basket and try to get an “and-one” or try to get the ball into the post to me so I could just drive it in. It was 30 seconds to go, they get the ball to me and I go in for a lay-up and somebody fouls me. But at this point I just needed the ball to go into the hoop so we would have a better chance of winning. And the ball was just bouncing and hit the rim and backboard until it finally went in. The team and I were so happy and my coach was jumping up and down. Boy, I was so nervous because the game was on my shoulder. If I didn’t make the free throw I would disappoint my team and my coach. If I make it the team and coach were going to be excited and then we could count another win of the season. I got to the free-throw line and my hands are sweating, the ref gave me the ball. I took my time and followed through with my shot and …. SWISHHHH goes the ball through the hoop. My team and I were so glad that we got to count another win to our season. After all that hard in practice that week, it really paid off!