To celebrate “D’s” birthday, he gathered 10 friends together to play basketball in the coliseum where our school team played. It was the closest I’d get to playing for college. It was a big court and completely intimidating to walk on that court. While it wasn’t filled with spectators, I was amazed to find that all those empty seats eventually faded into the background and it became like playing on any other court.
I was the only female. It was cool to have a chance to play with the guys. Before we got started, though, I’m sure some of them wondered what I was doing there. Possibly thinking I was intruding on their boys’ night.
The birthday boy was obviously one of the first team captains, so he chose his best friend first. Fair enough. But I was his second pick. I was grateful for that.
At first we played half court because some actual school team players were shooting around on the other side. They didn’t seem phased that we were there, although I really don’t know who pulled strings to make it happen.
I was so excited for this opportunity. Just so pumped to play on this court. I was all in.
At some point the guy I was guarding made some kind of comment about me taking this too seriously or it’s just a game. He was upset by how well I was guarding him. Blocking him out so he couldn’t get a rebound. Challenging his passing and shooting. I’ve never been accused of being too aggressive. That felt good.
Perhaps there was even a comment from an opponent to lay off the screens a little. We didn’t have established plays so I thought back to demonstrations in high school to keep moving and set picks so others can get open.
As the night went on, I never felt winded. We played for at least two hours. I remember one distinct break for water. A few of the guys were grabbing their knees, trying to suck in as much air as possible. I felt great! And I thought, “Wow, this running is really paying off with endurance!”
I was stealing the ball, making fast breaks. Rebounding. Finding open people with sometimes risky passes that beautifully reached their target. Catching passes instead of fumbling the ball. My shooting was amazing. At one point I think I made 10 shots in a row.
Even when we extended ourselves to playing full court my game remained intact. I have never played such a well-rounded game, firing on all cylinders. This was beyond being “in the zone.” This was magical.
Periodically we’d change up the teams. New captains were chosen. With the first pick there was no hesitation as a loud “Lindsay!” rang out. To be picked over “D” felt incredible. Any other night he was hands down the best player on the court.
It may have been “D’s” birthday, but I felt like I was the one unwrapping presents.
One epic night of glory. I never came close to matching that effort, but it’s an incredible memory to have tucked away.
It’s really cool to think about that night, considering all the obstacles I overcame in developing my basketball skills. I could have been nervous about being the only girl on the court or felt overwhelmed about trying to scrimmage with people I had never met.
Instead there was freedom, a chance to open myself up and run with how the night unfolded. No over-analyzing movements. No second guessing ideas. I simply acted on impulses, continuously reading the court.