by Nancy Chamberlain
I forgot how hard my kindergarten teacher was, until my mom reminded me one day. “She would yell at you everyday, give you a pokey puppy stamp while she gave everyone else a happy or well done stamp at the end of the day.” Oh yeah. I had forgotten since she always smiled and said hi to me in the halls. I now realize she was just happy I was no longer in her class. This reminded me of my experiences with basketball. I forgot just how often I was on the bench and how I scored a point for the other team…
I have always loved playing basketball. Which is surprising because when I was on an actual team during my fifth and sixth grade years, I was on the bench most of the time because I wasn’t good or as good as the rest of my team members. I have never been very competitive so that was part of my problem. I also struggle with focusing and have “Squirrel!” moments like the dog on the movie “Up.” So of course I was kind of tuning out when the coach finally called me to get out on the court. I was so excited, but wasn’t really paying attention to the game details such as what side was my team on? I was unexpectedly given the ball and took off down the court. Nobody was trying to get the ball. “I must be going really fast. They can’t keep up!” I thought. I was almost to the basket. The crowd was yelling, but I couldn’t really understand what they were screaming. “Go Nancy go?!” I thought and didn’t let their screams deter me from what I was about to do. I took a shot and made it. “ You just made a shot for the other team!” My team member shouted. Oops. I think I was on the bench for the rest of that year. After basketball season was over, a banquet was given with dinner and announcing trophies. I was only given a “participation trophy” as everyone else got more than one trophy for best defense, offense, free throw, etc.
But it didn’t deter me from playing basketball or trying again the next year. Why do you ask? Because although being on a team wasn’t a very good memory, I had lots of good memories to replace that. We had a basket over our garage. Occasionally, my family would play a game, Dad would show off his skills. Such as shooting baskets one handed while standing on the wall hanging on to the fence with one hand and shooting with the other. I practiced until I too could make that skill shot. My friends or neighbors would come over and we would shoot for hours. I even remember my mom calling me in as I was up late shooting. When I went to college, that was the first branch activity I remember going to. The institute had a basket in the parking lot, and both boys and girls played late on a nice summer night. Years later, there was a chance to join the church’s girl’s basketball team. I remember I had the ball and I took a shot from the three point line. Swish! Nothing but net. I scored points for my own team! One of the girls called me “Powerhouse.” I liked the nickname and kept playing in hopes I could make another shot like that again or even better. I did. Many times. A few more years went by and during school in Rexburg, a friend also expressed her interest in basketball and started a small basketball team. Called Thunder Road. We had a blast! Playing for fun and I was working on my defense. Dad and I would also would walk to a park and shoot some hoops. When I moved back to Utah, I took advantage of the opportunity to play basketball once a week at the church with people my age. Now my husband and I go play basketball and work on our game. As many years have gone by and as much practice I continue to put into it, I am still not cut out for the NBA or even a real game outside of church ball. But I do still really love the game. So I believe it is possible to really enjoy something, but not be so great at it. I still have that “participation trophy,” because I don’t look at it as a participation trophy. To me it is more of a “Persevering trophy.” To show my future generation that you don’t have to be great at something to love it. Every basket missed, is more determination to make a basket. And those are the shots that are most remembered.