"The moment has come," I thought as I made my way through the locker room after school. As I came to my locker, I tried to calm my nerves. I took out my basketball shoes and put them on. As I did this, I began to pray. Actually it was more like stuttering then praying, because of my nervousness. I prayed to God that I would do the very best I could and to not be afraid. I made my way through the locker room again and went upstairs to the gym. All of the others boys that were trying out were already there. The coach then entered and told us all to gather around.
" This isn't grade school basketball anymore," he said. "This isn't you and your buddies going out and playing in the backyard. This is high school basketball. Everything is different. The players are bigger, faster, stronger and better. So, your going to have to work and play faster, stronger and harder. Now lets get started with layups."
As we got started, I couldn't help not feeling a little intimidated. I had never had a coach like this before. This was going to be very new to me. As layup drills ended, we started on other shooting drills. These drills were extremely hard! I had never done these before an they were so complicating. I was struggling to keep up with the rest of the guys who were trying out. There were 32 of us all trying out. Each one of us knew that the coach could only take 17 kids. Many of these kids who were trying out were already on the coach's summer league team, so there was no doubt that they would make the team since they already knew the offense. I felt like I was at a big disadvantage. I didn't know the coach, the offense and now the drills.
On top of this, the kids were not nice at all. Whenever I did something wrong, they would all gang up on me. They would shout out insults at me and the coach did not say or do anything about it. This went on the whole practice! These kids would throw me bad passes when we were doing passing drills and then yell at me why I couldn't catch the ball! After practice was over, I felt terrible. I felt like nothing. I just wanted to give up and quit.
I told my mom in car ride home about what had happened. She reminded me of what I had told her weeks before tryouts, " I don't care if I don't play much, I just want to make the team." She then said that I should just use everything that had been said to me as motivation to make the team. She told me to give it all I had to make the team. She was right. I couldn't let my dream of making this team be ruined by these kids. I had to continue on. I had to fight to make it, and that is what I was going to do. I was going to fight for a position on this team. When we came home, I felt much better. I felt my confidence coming back again. I knew I could make it if I worked hard at it and didn't let the other kids get me down. I was ready now to give it all I had. I was ready for one of the toughest fights of my life.
(To be continued)