I’ve never been a big fan of sports – I do though enjoy cheering against fanatics teams (Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins for example) just to annoy the fans. The olympics don’t really ignite any flames for me, I think about all the money spent, the hours kids/young adults spend getting ready for their one chance to win a gold – a silver, a bronze just won’t do, it has to be gold… and if they fail the first time out the chances of a second win 4 years later is harder… unless you’re a doping cyclist or on an NBA super team.
So how i ended up being the water boy for the girls high school basketball team in Whitehall eludes me.
Ms Matchey (I think was her name), was the assistant coach and asked me and for some reason I said yes… me, the loner stoner, hanger-headed outcast participating in sports (not actively mind you, just on the sidelines). I filled their water bottles, cheered their points, watched the games with mild curiosity and actually began to understand it. These girls were very good, they were fast, strong and could make a basket, nothing I could claim myself. I was there for practices, games, and in the locker room (though this did nothing for me some people were jealous) they were always clothed when I was there. I’d pick up the wet towels, I’d make sure there were new towels…
I remember one of the other teams got upset when I walked across a part of the court to prepare the locker room – they were on the other side but I learned not to go on the court but I was also a little mad… it’s not like I had done anything to that side or anything, but sports are weird, everything matters in sports I think.
We did good that year, I think it was 1985 or 86. The girls were on fire and I was a part of that. They even bought me a hooded school sweatshirt with my name on it, I think it said James, but it could have said Appel (I’m old and forgetful).
Every game I attended they won, I was like a good luck charm (don’t kid yourself Jamez, they were just very good team of players) I think they were in the semifinals that year, I can’t recall – I remember I didn’t go with – a party or something was more important and they lost… I was kind of sad, but kind of glad at the same time, why was I even there? I’d wonder.
The next year I was there in the beginning but a girl was there too and I felt like I was replaced so I just stopped going. Better for them, better for me, I thought.
Later on at G-E-T I lettered in music, another one of those things that didn’t seem to matter to me but did to others – my music teacher said she gave me the letter not only because of my music participation but also because I had been involved in the girls basketball team in Whitehall and in the drama club. At the lettering dinner I wore white pants (something I did a lot – yes, I’m gay obviously) and someone spilled the pot of coffee on the table and of course it headed straight to me.
All of these memories came this morning when my sponsor shared with me that his daughter-in-laws (the coach) girls basketball team are going to the state tournament this Friday, they’ve been doing really well and he goes to their games to cheer them on and critique from the stand – just like a normal person 🙂
But it did give me pause today, made me think of some of the girls that were on the team so long ago – Julie, Dana, Renee and more, they were always so nice to me too. Probably was more meaningful to how I developed in life than I originally thought. Life’s like that – it gives us lessons that we don’t even know we needed at the time.