Bad sporting memories: Getting cut from freshman basketball team
I was raised in a family of athletes. My parents were athletic and they in turn encouraged all of their kids to do the same. We were lead down a path of playing all sports that we were interested from competitive swimming to golf and everything else as well. Two of us kids went on to get college scholarships and one of us (not me) went on to play sports professionally.
All of us were very good, even dominant at the sports we decided to put our efforts into. For me, my focus was soccer (football) but I was also quite good at other things and was a relatively go-to player on the basketball court as well. However, things would turn for me one year that eventually lead to me not pursuing the sport of basketball anymore.
High school basketball tryouts can be a pretty stressful time for a kid because unlike your classes, if you don't perform you don't make the team and this can be a bit embarrassing for a 14 year old kid because at that age the people in the lunchroom are probably as mean as they are ever going to be in your life. To make matters worse, my family had just moved to a new city and I knew literally no one at my school and had to start over as friends were concerned. This is already a difficult time for kids, because everyone is quite mean in high school, there are a lot of politics, and now you have the added pressure of trying out for sports.
When i stepped onto the court for tryouts I was the only person that didn't have anyone to talk to because I was new. This shouldn't have affected me as much as it did but it did. I had a lot more to prove those days on the court than the other boys because if they screwed up they could just laugh it off with their pal. I had no pals and really felt as though all eyes were on me to perform. Then disaster struck:
Tryouts for basketball was only 1 week long so of course I come down with a terrible sickness during that week. These days, they probably would have sent me home and not let me try out but i was out there anyway, with a headache, fever, runny nose, you name it.
not me, but this is a good representation of how I felt
Obviously, when you are this sick you are not going to perform at your best and then you can add in the fact that the tryouts were after a full day of school where I would feel like crap all day there as well and probably should have just stayed home and recovered but didn't do so because you couldn't attend tryouts unless you attended school. I saw making the basketball team as a way to make some friends as well as show up some of these guys because I actually was a better player than most of them. None of them would end up knowing this though because I simply could not complete the cardio workouts that the coach was making us all do before we even touched the basketballs and even though I had an absolutely fantastic excuse, the coach also had never heard of me. I did try to explain the situation to him and even got a little arrogant and said "I am better than most of these guys."
He didn't believe me and I think that this had at least a little bit to do with the fact that myself and my family were new in town and were nobodies as far as he was concerned.
When the week passed I had made it to every single tryout day but the following week when I was feeling better I looked at the list of who made the team that was posted outside the gym and my name was not on it. The other kids, being mean like they are liked to showcase the fact that most of the people who tried out made the team, and my attempt to make friends by making the team actually had the reverse effect. These popular kids kind of controlled the social scene and now they had a target. Later on that year I was at a party (the innocent kind) and challenged one of the guys who made the team to a game of one-on-one to 11 points and beat him by 8. I wasn't lying to the coach when I said i was better than most of these guys.
Later I would go on to play something called intermural basketball after school where everyone would just make their own teams with whoever they wanted and when I was on the court playing like this, I would hit double figures every single game. I like to think that the coach was looking out his office window and would see me playing and realize that he had made a mistake by cutting me, but I'll never know if that happened. He probably didn't know who I was.
It was demoralizing, but it did result in me focusing a lot more on soccer because it was now my only sport and this focus would result in me eventually getting notice by scouts and going to college for free. At the same school that cut me from the basketball team the soccer coaches who again did not know me, put me on the "B" team even though I was a lot better than most of the guys on the "A" team. Later the coaches would ask me to move to "A" but I refused. I'm not leaving my teammates half way through the season.
The following year I would try out for the basketball team (at a different school, my family moved a lot) and made the team but in a shock twist to the coach, I actually declined the invitation to play. I remember him saying to me ..."then why the hell did you come to the tryouts?"
To this day I don't know that answer to that question. I suppose it was all for the best though because I am 6 feet tall now and this isn't really tall enough to excel at basketball unless you are a phenom. I was good, certainly above average but you have to be excellent to play competitively if you are only 6 feet tall.
Anyway, that is a story that was a pretty tough time for me and it was embarrassing mostly because of high-school politics in the hallways. I only attended that school for one year and can honestly say that I was really happy to get out of there. I guess things happen for a reason and who knows? Had I not been cut from the team perhaps I wouldn't have focused so much on soccer and my life could have been very different. I'd rather be excellent at one sport than average at all of them so maybe this was the universe's way of telling me to stop trying to play basketball.