Monday, February 7, 2011


Let me tell you a story about the sorriest little basketball team you ever did see.

First, I feel like I need to tell you that I was quite the athlete in my youth.  At the risk of sounding immodest, I was a competitive swimmer and tennis player and I didn’t completely suck at golf.  In spite of a few spectacular falls here and there, I could also hold my own on the ski slopes. 

I stupidly thought that I could play any sport I wanted to when I joined the First Presbyterian Church Girls’ Basketball Team.  We joined with other thirteen and fourteen year olds who played in the church league at Noble Junior High School every Saturday morning and Wednesday night.

Over the years, I’ve pondered upon what our main problem was.  We were certainly short and skinny, but so were the majority of girls on the other teams.  Although all of us were raised in ACC households and knew basketball like the backs of our hands, we didn’t have a lick of experience when it came to actually playing basketball. 

The other members of the sorriest basketball team ever certainly weren’t slouches in the athletic department either—at least one of them went to college on a full sports scholarship.  The thing is that we were all proficient in tennis, swimming and even one or two of us had experience in track and field, but those sports—unlike basketball—were non-contact.

After long reflection, I think that the foremost reason for our suck-age was the fact that we were too damned prissy.

When it comes to basketball, a player is either all over the offense or charging through the defense.  Any opportunity to steal the ball away from the other side should be taken with zeal and the throwing of as many elbows as necessary. 

We were too polite.  Polite people don’t run into each other on purpose and rudely snatch things away!  Perish the thought!  The first time (of many) that one of our team got the ball taken from us, she looked shocked and heartbroken that someone would do such a thing.  Rather than jump in a pile to fight for possession, we stood at a safe distance and looked on while wringing our hands.

I remember one particular team we played against that sported some of the biggest junior high school students I have ever seen.  Maybe genetic engineering was involved or maybe they ate their Wheaties every morning, but any one of those girls could have knocked us into the next county with nothing more than the swipe of their arm.  During one of those dreaded games, I somehow had possession of the ball.  I saw an enormous opposing team member charging at me and I felt like I was a little bug in the shadow of a great sequoia.  My mama didn’t raise a dummy, so I just held the ball out to her so she could take it without hurting me.  It’s not my proudest moment, but I am a survivor and there you have it.

Of course, in addition to being little milquetoasts, we were abysmal shots on the rare occasion that we actually had possession of the ball.  I played basketball for two years and I scored maybe eight points, although I will have to brag a moment and tell you that I actually made a shot from half court only a second or two before the buzzer.  It was my one moment of glory.  I remember one time when one of our teammates was so surprised to find herself with the ball that she stood doggedly under the basket shooting the ball repeatedly.  The problem was that she was at the other team’s goal.  We were hollering at her to stop, but she kept right on plugging along.  No judgment here—there, but for the grace of God, went I.

I remember one incident when I somehow ended up at the bottom of a pile of girls fighting over the ball.  It was completely by accident—I must have fallen.  The referee pulled everyone out until he found me on the bottom, curled in a fetal position around the ball.  I made sure to stay away from the ball as much as possible after that.  Thankfully for all involved, I hung up the old b-ball jersey when I got to high school and stuck with what I knew. 

My how things have changed...

Baby Belle 1 attends St. Mary Catholic School and the upper school had girls’ and boys’ basketball games last night.  BB1 is fond of several of the upper school girls and she wanted to cheer them on, so I took her to the game. 

Good Lord have mercy!  I looked around a couple of times just to make sure that we hadn’t gone to a hockey game by accident.  The girls were snatching at that orange ball like it was Justin Bieber’s head.  They were rolling around and fighting more than they were standing up straight and shooting for the goal.  Somehow, the refs only called three fouls, but it could have just been because they were too scared to draw the ire of the Amazons.

I have seen prison riots that look like the choreographed Michael Jackson video “fights” compared to what I saw on the court yesterday.  It wouldn’t have surprised me if someone got shanked.  If you’re interested, St. Mary’s won by about fifteen points but, as far as I’m concerned, any young lady who came out at the end with all of her teeth intact was a winner.

Was I horrified, you ask?  No way1  I thought it was completely awesome!  This is a new day and age for the Southern Belle and she has adapted like the survivor she is.  Of course, I’m not ashamed to tell you that I shall henceforth give the St. Mary’s basketball ladies a wide berth at all school functions.  Like I said, my mama didn’t raise a dummy.

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