Thursday, February 19, 2009

We are the Soldiers!

It seems Tuesdays are a big deal in my world. This Tuesday was no exception. School was school, nothing too extravagant happened, but after school two great things.

I went to a used bookstore and stumbled across a copy of O Pioneers by Willa Cather. It is one of my favorite books and I have been looking to add it to the school library. I own it in hardback, but the one I got is soft cover. I am not sure I will be able to get many people excited about reading her stuff, but I can always hope.

Then, I went back to school to watch the kids play sports. We have a girl’s volleyball team and a boy’s basketball team, both of which are very young. They have heart and they have determination, but they have a ways to go as well.

The girls lost three straight, but in the third game they made a bit of a showing. They had some good volleys, but overall they were out gunned. The school we played has a varsity and JV squad. We have 9 girls total from 7th – 12th grade. I think next year, when some of them have a little more experience we could do better. This was the number one team in our little league.

Now the boys! This is what basketball should be all about! We have a star. He is 6 foot 4 inches and he is good. He was not there. But! We still had enough players; as a matter of fact, we had six players. Let me fill out the roster for you:

Jake is a senior (12th grade) and has been playing since he could hold a ball.
Daniel is a junior (11th grade) and until this season had been more the soccer kind of athlete.
Cameron is a freshman (9th grade) and, though he has scrapped around before, this is only his second year playing on a team.
Vlad is in 7th grade, yes I said 7th, and he had never played basketball until this year. This kid does not have the greatest ball skills, but he can play defense like the big boys. Did I mention he is maybe 5 ft tall?
Our final started is Isaac. I am not even going to mention his age, let’s just say he is younger than Vlad. He is Jake’s little brother and has been playing ball his whole life as well.
We have one bench warmer, a young man who would rather play volleyball, but that’s a “girl” sport. He saw about 2 minutes of game time when Daniel got a cramp in his leg and had to walk it off.

Do you have a picture? Now our opponent: First off there were nine of them and they were all at least 5’6”, which isn’t necessarily tall in the basketball world, but look back at the size of the home team!

The game started slow for us. The Cougars had six points before we ever got a shot off. It did not look promising. Coach called a time out and gave them a shot in the arm. And we the crowd started doing some cheers. A few passes later we were on the board! The first quarter we were behind the whole way. The second quarter…same thing. With one minute and thirty seconds left things started happening.

The Soldiers were down by 8 and had possession. Jacob brought the ball down the court and the play was in motion. The goal: get the ball to Vlad in his favorite spot so he could try for 3 and everybody rebound! A few passes back and forth and BAM! Vlad is open. Jacob gets the ball to Vlad, he turn, shoots and SCORES!!! Soldiers are down by 5 with less than a minute to go.

The pressure is on, the defensive pressure that is. The Soldiers execute a full court press and it works! They steal the ball and quick as lightening Vlad is standing on his mark. They pass the ball down court and again he turns, shoots and SCORES!!! We are down by two and the clock is running.

One more time, the Cougars try to take the ball down court. They pass the ball across the center court line and Daniel snags it. Quick as a lick he is headed for the hoop and a fast lay-up. Just as he shoots a defender catches him and tries to block the shot, but no way! The shot is in and Daniel is fouled! There are seven seconds left, the score is tied and Daniel is headed for the free throw line for one shot and the lead. The Soldiers were ready for the rebound; no way the Cougars were going to get the ball and a chance to score at this point!

Daniel shoots and SCORES!!! Soldiers were now up by one. Full court press, the Cougars get the ball in bounds and try a Hail Mary at the buzzer, it doesn’t even get to the backboard. The Soldiers went into halftime one point up.

They led the rest of the game. There were a few nail biting moments. With about five minutes left in the game Daniel got that cramp I mentioned and our little bench warmer had to play for about a minute thirty. It was a looooong time. The Cougars scored three times and we finally called a time out to get Daniel back in the game.

The Soldiers won! Talk about teamwork! Talk about fun!

I woke up the next morning with no voice, but some things are just worth it.

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