Sunday, March 30, 2014

Basketball Rivals and Ladies' Choice

When I was growing up there were two high schools in my hometown. One was a public school; the other Catholic. Through my early Junior High school years my uncle taught boys basketball at the Catholic school. This was a perk for me and my cousin. We got to go to the games and strut around, thinking we were something because we had ties to the coach-as if it mattered to anyone else in that gymnasium.

We knew the names of all the players. We'd cheer them on as if they knew or cared who we were. Looking back I realize now they never even knew we existed. But when you're that age, younger than any of the players and your uncle is their coach, imagination is a wonderful thing. If anyone of them had even looked our way I know we would have died! Eventually the Catholic high school closed and the students were merged into the public school.

High school basketball games were lots of fun-especially when we'd e playing a big rival. Those were the times there'd be lots of evening phone calls back and forth during the week leading up to the game. Needless to say there were no cell phones or ipads and texting was non-existent so for me that meant I was forced to stand in the living room and do my discussing of the game and the players and what we were going to do in preparation of the game. We only had the one phone in the house. It was a rotary phone. It sat on top of a pillow that sat on top of a bookcase in the living room. My mother kept it on a pillow so at night-if my father got called out on an ambulance call-she wouldn't hear it ring. I never thought about my father hearing it!

Anyway, getting ready to take on a rival took lots of planning. It sure beat doing geometry! We'd make signs. A few times we'd stuff clothes and make it look like a dummy and write something on its shirt which probably wasn't very nice. Home games were in the gym. A curtain would be pulled back to expose an auditorium and that's where everyone sat-in the auditorium seats. It was always packed. The local radio station would be there. Cheerleaders led us in chants and clapping and feet stomping. I was never a cheerleader. A few of my aunts were when they were in high school at the Catholic school-torn down after it closed. In its place there now sits a fire station. In my heart it will always be where that school sat. While we thought we were rivals-turns out we were friends.

The best part of a game was after the final buzzer sounded and the gymnasium turned into a dance floor. When the words, "Ladies' Choice", came over the microphone it made the entire week of talking on that phone that sat on a pillow in the living room-and the planning-and the painting of signs-and the cheering-and screaming-worth it. It was our own version of March Madness! I dare say ours was lots more fun. It only lasted a few minutes. No brackets. No hype. Just a slow dance in a high school gym.

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