The pressure was on

Every move a player made was critical. The coaches screamed out commands as the players tried to execute the perfect play. It was a nail biter. With seconds left in the forth quarter we were up by two against our arch-rival, a moment when every competitor would want to be in the game. “7… 6… 5… ,” my coach enthusiastically shouted out with his eyes wide open. “No fouls, no fouls,” I nervously yelled from the sideline. The point guard from the opposing team pounded the ball on the floor as she rushed up the court. Stopping at the top of the key she put up a shot.

Everyone held their breath as they watched the ball spin in the air. Clang! The ball hit the back rim and flew right. We had won by 2! We had won our final game of the season and ended up 18-4. My teammates fled the court, jumping with excitement as I slowly followed behind. It should have been one of the most exciting times, but for me it was the total opposite. I was glad we won, but inside I was hurting. I had sat the bench the whole game and almost every game before that. It had become routine. My coach had no trust in me on a basketball court.

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If I did get in, it was when we had the game in total control. Even then, I would usually only get to play for a few seconds. The minute I made a mistake I was pulled. How was I ever supposed to learn from my mistakes if he sat me down right away? “I am so proud of you guys,” my coach passionately said in the locker room with a smile on his face. You hung tough and never gave up! Way to finish out the season! I thank you for three great years and I hope each one of you go on and play in middle school. ” We had just wrapped up our third season of basketball together.

Next year was the next step for all of us. Instead of playing on a traveling team, we would be playing for our school! “Abby,” my coach said as he caught up to me after the game. “Yeah,” I replied back in a faint voice as I stared down at the floor. “Sorry I didn’t play you,” he said regretfully. “It’s ok. I understand. You had the right people in,” I choked out. My coach came over and gave me a hug as he could tell I was about to break down. I knew he cared about me, but it was hard not to hate him at the time. As I started walking off, he said in the distance, “You have a lot of potential.

Keep working hard. I look forward to watching you play next year. ” When I got home that night I sat silently in my room just thinking about my basketball future. There was no question that I still wanted to play, but I knew I had to make some major improvements. I didn’t want to play next year just to be on the team. I wanted to contribute. Summer came around and I signed up for a number of basketball camps like I had always done. The K-State women’s basketball camp, which I had been going to since I was about 8, was first.

On the second day of camp I was off shooting by myself and Sue Serafini, an assistant coach came up to me. “Hey Abby,” she said seriously as she was walking toward me. “Yeah,” I exclaimed surprisingly, as I didn’t even know anyone was watching me. “I noticed that your elbow sticks out to the right was you shoot. Also, you seem to be leaving your left hand on the ball too long. Can I show you something? ” she asked as she grabbed a ball off the floor. “Of course,” I said firmly. I wasn’t going to tell her no. “I think you would be making a lot more of your shots if you made a couple djustments,” she said. She gave me a few tips on my technique as and walked me through each step. “Hold the ball in your right hand like you normally would, but put your middle finger on the air hole. Now make sure the ball is up on your finger tips and on the pads of your hands. Bring your left hand up and line your thumb up with this line,” she explained, as she pointed to a line going down the side of the ball. “Like this? ” I curiously asked. Assuring me she said, “Yes, that is perfect. Now the key is to keep these things in mind and shoot the same way every time.

Stand about two feet from the basket and practice the motion. When you get used to it, take a step back,” she said as the break was ending. I was so excited after she had talked to me! “A K-State coach had actually talked to me,” I thought to myself. She could see that I loved the game, but knew I needed to make a few changes if I wanted to be successful in the future. Practicing was great, but I would see results a lot faster if I was practicing the right way. After camp I continued to work on my shot. I designed a workout that included shooting about 200 shots a day.

I didn’t care when and where I practiced. It was sometimes on the driveway or in the gym, at 8 am or even 10 pm. No matter what was going on that day, I made sure to get my shots in. I was determined to get better and was not going to let anything get in the way. Practice was the only way I was going to improve. Tryouts for the middle school basketball team came around and I was ready to prove myself. No one had a clue how hard I had worked during the summer. I was ready to go out and surprise some people. Right away I could tell I was ahead of everyone. I was fresh and on top of my game.

My shots were going in and that carried over to the defensive end. I had all the confidence in the world. The coaches could see that I had put in time over the summer to improve my game. “Abby really looks good,” I overheard one coach saying. “Yeah, she is definitely going to be a great player for us,” an assistant coach replied back. Our last chance to prove ourselves came as we closed out tryouts with a scrimmage. Everyone had the chance to make a final impression on the coaches. We were divided into two teams and would scrimmage for about 10 minutes. “I have to make some plays and standout.

This is it,” I said to myself with a sense of urgency. We huddled around an assistant coach and she gave us some final advice. Then she told us to figure out who was playing first. “I’m in,” I yelled out, as she barely finished the sentence. We won the tip and I was off to the races. I dribbled the ball down the court and somehow got left unguarded. I drove right down the middle and laid the ball in. “It can’t get much easier than that,” I thought to myself as I was running to get back on defense. We went back and forth down the floor as both teams kept missing their shots.

Everyone was worn out and it was definitely showing. As the guard from the other team was bringing the ball down the floor, I picked her pocket and took the ball the other way for an easy two points. A few minutes later, our coach was about to substitute new people in, but my team stole the ball and had one final possession. We quickly passed the ball around the perimeter, dumped it inside and then it was kicked back out to me. I put up a shot from the right corner for three… swish! The coach blew her whistle and we all ran off excited! Everyone congratulated me and was giving me high fives.

I had scored half of our points! Once we finished the scrimmage we gathered our things and sat anxiously outside the locker room as the coaches made their decisions. “Are you nervous? ” one of the girls calmly asked as she sat against the wall in the hallway. “Not really,” I said with assurance. Right then, we stood up immediately as we heard chatting just inside the door. The door swung open and the coaches stepped out. “Come on in guys and take a seat,” the head coach said as she waived us in. Instead of posting a list of who made it, she handed us an envelope with our name printed across the front.

I was confident that I had made it, but I wanted to see for sure. I got my letter and wanted so badly to rip it open right then and there, but they made us wait until we got off school grounds. I ran down the hallway and flew out the front door as I held the letter tight in my right hand. As I searched frantically for my mom’s car, I saw two girls leaving. They had opened their letters and could tell by their body motions that they had made it. Seeing that only made me more anxious. I stood restlessly as I leaned up against a brick wall. Five cars came down the street and none of them were my mom. It was driving me crazy!

All I wanted to do was open my letter. As every minute went by the more and more uneasy I got. Finally, about 10 minutes later, I saw my mom pull up. I zipped down the steps and dove in the car. I tore my letter open, reading about every other word. Before I even knew what it said my mom snatched it from me. She was just messing with me, but I was in no mood to joke around. She gave it right back and I started again. On behalf of Anthony Middle school, I would like to congratulate… ” That’s all I needed to read. “I made it! I made it,” I yelled as I nearly jumped out of my seat! My hard work had paid off! “