My junior year in high school I occupied a small section of the bench during our high school basketball season. I occupied that spot all season. Yes, this was the jv team and not the highly regarded and competitive senior team. I enjoyed basketball, or at least some aspects of it but I was not highly refined in a sport where I was way too short and generally lacking in overall ability. The coaches did have some gleaming hopes for my bball future, though. I clung to some of those same hopes knowing that in the ideal world I could be a superstar or at least maybe escape the clutch of the bench and play enough to break a sweat or score more than 2 points in a game.
in Los Angeles for a Hotshot competition
Basketball had been a wake-up call for me and those involved in my little world. During a year of junior high basketball I had a coach from hell, or some appalling community close to hell. He had a knack for working us to the puke zone and beyond. While holding back tears and feeling the vomit gurgling in my stomach, I occupied the bench all season. While we all suffered through workouts that were beyond anything a junior higher should endure, I seemed to be having an extra measure of struggle on the court. In a small world of perfect storms, my pancreas had just thrown in the towel. Thank goodness for parents that knew that weight loss, off of a thin boy, and a thirst that only type 1 newbie’s would truly comprehend and understand, earmarked me for a hospital check up. My blood sugar was in the neighborhood of 550? and my life, and those close to me would be forever changed.
Those gleaming hopes of the coaches, maybe a few members of the team, my father and me were hinged on the fact that I had an extreme ability to shoot the basketball. While I saw almost zero playing time I was one of the best shooters on the planet. I would compete in the Pepsi Hotshot Basketball Contest and placed in the top 8 in the United States (in my age group) one year and top 24 the year before while traveling around the country competing during half time of NBA games. Talk about pressure! That pressure does wonders for blood sugars. The Hotshot program treated its athletes well and also bestowed travel vouchers, so that my parents could cringe and gasp, while their son competed on a national level, with crowds in the range of 10,000 people. I was able to use my talent in a manner much different than expected. Sometimes life is not what it seems or should be but venturing onto the road less traveled or maybe a path that has never been traveled can be the best experience.