In tenth grade I took honors English and history (Ancient and Medieval history, to be more accurate). Both classes thoroughly kicked my butt. Over the summer we had a massive research project for history. I consider having to look up 30-40 people and events and write maybe half a page on them explaining their significance a massive project. Again I wasn’t good with doing research. Some of them didn’t have their own entry in encyclopedias or other resources I looked at, so I didn’t know where else to try. And for whatever reason, it still seemed like a cop out or failure to ask the librarian for help. I didn’t do very well for that project. That wasn’t a good introduction for the class.
I suppose I could have dropped the class upon learning about the summer requirements, but I didn’t. Maybe I didn’t realize that was an option.
It took a long time before things began to click for me in that history class, before I figured out how to prepare and study. It probably took the second semester until I made that connection.
That’s one class I wish I could take again, actually. We learned about ancient rulers and kings, people who come up when reading the Old Testament. It would have put the Israelite narrative into proper context. Yet even being at a Catholic school, I don’t think the class was presented that way. Only as a history class.
I know we’re supposed to learn about and appreciate the past so we can recognize and avoid similar mistakes. Learning about the past can be very boring, though, if it’s not put into proper perspective, or if events aren’t described in a relatable way. You need context, which I definitely didn’t have in high school.
I remember geometry being a challenging class in the beginning. Writing out theorems and identifying proofs, those are challenging and confusing. Are there really circumstances that can be that predictable and reliable? In my world that didn’t seem possible. But again, I kept trying to make sense of things. And then one day things fell into place; they clicked. I don’t know how. I don’t know what finally happened so that things made sense. I just remember that I eventually reached that point.
Life on the court
The summer before tenth grade started, there was more basketball conditioning and some fun in the form of the Georgia Games. The Georgia Games are like a mini Olympics held in the state, but this was the first time it was being hosted outside of Atlanta. As a team we entered the arena for the opening ceremonies and were climbing steps to get to our seats, when I hear “Go Lindsay!” A group of 3 or 4 boys were looking in my direction. I have no idea who they were or how they knew my name. But I was the only one on the team singled out like that. It was a weird feeling. I guess they recognized my picture from the paper, there had been a few with game stories. That’s really the moment that stands out from that whole competition. It wasn’t often I got noticed like that.
Being a tenth grader meant I had some authority on the team. Not as much as the seniors, obviously, but some. I now had a year of experience playing at the high school level, so I felt like I had something to draw from and it was possible to offer feedback to the freshmen. A tiny bit of leadership skills were developing.
The games blur together. Practices, trips on the bus, all of those details blur together. What stands out, though, is sharing the court with the cheerleaders for the first part of practice. If my high school basketball experience came with a soundtrack, it would be a continuous loop of “You Give Love a Bad Name.” I swear it seems like that was the only song the cheerleaders ever crafted routines for. It was always playing.
The other memorable moment was a free-throw competition during practice. We paired up to shoot 50 free throws in a row, two days in a row for a total of 100 shots. I went through my little ritual each time I got the ball, some combination of dribblig and doing a backward flip with the ball in front of me. Making sure my right foot was lined up with the middle of the basket. Eyes focused on the basket. Intense concentration. Precision shots, many barely touching the rim, nothing but net. Ten in a row. Then 15. I think the first day I hit at least 40 of those shots. And the second day, closer to 45.
I didn’t make every one of those shots during game time; nerves definitely got the best of me sometimes. But it was cool to know that it was possible to make most of them. It takes focus, though. And muscle memory. And you have to use your legs, especially when you’re tired.
Tenth grade basketball was exciting for another reason: state playoffs. We made the first round of state playoffs for the first time in I don’t know how long. It was very cool for a school of our size to advance in the postseason. In fact, for the next three years we reached the first round. For whatever reason the whole team was never able to bring our A game to that round. I know I often got intimidated by the competition and probably got psyched out, which didn’t help. But we had a strong team when we worked together.