Making the Shot
Making the Shot
It was my seventh-grade year in middle school and on the outside of the gymnasium hung a paper to sign up for basketball tryouts. I loved basketball games! The nachos, the cheers, and chants from the stands...D-fense!...D-fense!, the squeaky sound the basketball shoes made on the glossy wood floors, and did I mention the nachos? As a grown adult I stand a petite five feet and one inch tall, but I did not give much thought to my tiny frame as I wrote my name on the vacant black line. The next week as I walked into tryouts I quickly noticed I was the smallest of the group. My heart sunk much lower than my stout body stood. Remembering my mom's words, "Amber, you were born with fire in your veins!" I decided to muster up all the fire I could and play as if my life depended on it. I barely made any shots and struggled to dribble the ball and walk at the same time, but I could guard like a pit bull protecting his bone!
Across the intercom, the announcement was made that teams were posted, and the cheerful voice wished everyone "good luck!". I quickly, but with hesitated hope made my way to the blue and gold painted concrete block wall where my fate hung. Finding the roster for my grade, I slowly ran my finger down the list of names. Gasping loudly, leaving little oxygen for anyone else in the room, eyes bulging in disbelief, and blinking quickly to make sure I was seeing correctly, there was my name in bold, black letters, "AMBER OSBORN, Position: Right Guard".
I have never worn anything as proudly as that royal blue shirt lettered in bright white with our team name the "EAGLES" along with my number, twenty-one. The bright red shorts, red, white and blue knee socks, and red and white high-top basketball shoes that made the same squeaky noise on the court I had admired from the sidelines completed the ensemble. I played with all my might keeping opponents as far from the basket as possible, while desperately wanting my own go at a shot. Given my height and skill in that area, my chances were slim. Then it happened. I was fouled. The whistle blew and I was quickly placed behind the free throw line to take my shots.
The entire gymnasium got quiet, all eyes were on me. It felt as if everyone watching knew how badly I wanted to watch the ball leave my hands and enter the basket scoring a point for my team. The crowd whispered as I dribbled the ball preparing for my first shot. Quickly glancing over at my mother as she sat on the edge of the bleacher, hands clasped in front of her mouth I brought the ball up and followed through as best I could. It bounced off the rim and onto the floor. The sighs from the stands seemed to harmonize perfectly with each hollow bounce of the basketball as if it was laughing at me on its way back for the second shot. Terrified to eye the crowd I grabbed the ball and focused intently on the basket in front of me. Bringing the ball up a second time, I closed eyes as it left my fingertips. The gym erupted in shouts and applause! I opened my eyes and not being able to hold it back, began to cry tears of joy. I did not win the game, I was never the star of the team, I never played another year after that, but I made the shot.
My year on the Eagles basketball team was not life-changing because I went on to be an all-star. It was life-changing because even today I still think about it and it encourages me to face challenges and try things I would not normally try. My kids love it when I tell this story and it has the same effect on them. That's how my son made a select soccer team. Even if you fail, you still tried! Get back up, dust yourself off and keep going! Don't ever let anything hold you back from chasing your dreams and always take the shot!
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© 2018 Amber Byerly