Started with rec ball on the yellow team in the Salvation Army League... Being from a city where I was typically the only white kid on the team, I had some ground to make up fast. I wasn't half the athlete my peers were so I had to find a way to somehow still compete. I did everything I could to blend in with my friends, but like I said before, I was far too competitive to be a role player. Every day of the year, and I mean every day, I could be found with a basketball in my hand. Whether it was me playing or doing some drill, or watching MJ (my favorite of all time) (we'll be sure to discuss the impact he had/has on my love for basketball) on TV, I couldn't get enough. During the elementary days, a 4th grader had two options, play for their school team or continue playing for the rec team you played on from the 1st grade. For me, it was an easy decision... play for the team that introduced me to the game (yellow squad - probably something Mexican affiliated because most of us were Mexican). We were competitive too! We always seemed to get to the championship every year, but always lost to the same team. A team with a kid who killed us every time. I learned a lot during my experience with this team. I developed relationships with good friends and my appreciation for basketball skyrocketed. I remember going to school during these times and arguing with my friends about whose squad was better. This is where my passion and competitive fire I have today developed and matured.
By the time elementary school ball was coming to an end, I had turned into not only a starter on my team, but one of the top 3 players. During that 5th grade year, with us coming off 3 straight losses in the championship to the same team, we found ourselves in the championship once again. You would think I'd be thrilled at this opportunity again but I wasn't... Why? Because the family vacation we took every year to Florida was scheduled during the championship game. So I'm left with this dilemma... miss my first trip to Disney World w/ the fam or try and stay with a family member for a 1 hr game that would probably end the same way it had the previous 3 years (an L). My decision on this problem did nothing but instill in my mind that I would be in a relationship with the game of basketball for the rest of my life. You know I had to stay!! Was there ever any doubt?!?!
So opting to stay with my coach and missing out on a week long vacation as a 10 year old wasn't as difficult as you would probably think (told you my love for the game was authentic from the beginning!). All I could think about going into this game was, "I sure hope we win so I can make the missed vacation worth it". Let's just say, IT WAS WORTH IT!!!! We squeaked out a nail-bitter in the championship and I didn't think twice about missing out on the vacation. Instead, my mind coming off that W at the time (yes, I remember what I was thinking because I went to the park and shot 500 jumpers the very next day) was wrapped around the fact that I need to get a lot better if I think I am going to make my middle school team in 2 years. You might be asking why I was thinking about something that was still 2 years away... Well, I proved to my coaches and teammates that I was a better player and improved dramatically over the last few years, but I had never had to try out for a cut sport and I was scared to death of rejection. Making a team with the best players from a very competitive city was the scariest thing a 10 year old boy like myself could think about. I'll save these thoughts for later!
On deck - Middle School Ball