Today, write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series.
All dreams die someday. This is the story of the death of one of my first dreams. It was 2005 and my singular goal in life was to play basketball as much as I could. It was my favorite sport of many and despite my height I had gotten quite good.
During the summer I trained with a college player who got me shooting about 500 shots in a couple of hours. As in any sport, repetition is key. I will still continue to wonder what would have happened to my three-point shot if I had continued for another two years. I could sink them like it was my job.
I worked so hard that I got to be in great shape. Better shape than I had ever been in. This was before I knew to diet, so I ate lots of meat and pizza, not to mention Captain Crunch. The peanut butter flavor was my favorite. But my hundreds of sprints each day heartily counteracted any excess. I was strong, lean, and ready to rock and roll for tryouts.
I arrived to a scene of about 30 people from school, each was a great basketball player in their own right. But when it came to conditioning it was easy to see who had put in the time. I won every single sprint during that tryout. On most, the second person wasn’t even close. At the end of the first day, my calves cramped badly when we did some full court drills. I kept going but those cramps would affect me for a few days, I attribute it to my poor diet. Man, that is an important thing for any athlete to know.
During the entire try-out, I gave it my all. I played defense like a madman and would run the ball as point faster than anyone else. I was a speed demon, but my control wasn’t on par. I wasn’t used to going as fast as I did so I would lose the ball, or make a bad decision. I was right on the cusp of making the team and I knew it.
The last few days of the tryouts came to a close and I could see who was left, who I was competing against. There was a definite separation between the starting 10 or so and the rest of the squad.
Coach pulled us into his office and let us know one by one who hadn’t made the team. I watched as the three guys I had dropped pounds of sweat with left the room in despair, my fate was all too apparent. In basketball, height matters. Almost more than anything else. I knew that my 5’8″ stature had doomed me, but I was determined. I walked into that office with my head held high.
“Elliot, this is going to be hard to tell you, but we are going to cut you from the JV team. Its hard because you work so damn hard, you have more heart than anyone else out there. But we don’t have room to keep you on the team. I need to be completely focused on the twelve guys that will play and you are above the line.” Tears started to come to my eyes at that point. My basketball dreams were dying, but I knew that this wasn’t an end. And it had been inevitable, I could see that now.
I shook off the tears and told the coach it had been fun to be on the team. I had loved it. I shook his hand firmly and said, “Thanks for giving me a shot coach. I did my best.” I’ll never forget the look he gave me that day, almost as if he couldn’t believe me. I didn’t argue, or become emotional, it was simple to me. It was over.
Dreams die. Give them all you’ve got and they will still perish eventually. But life will bring you more. Go with them, without holding on to the past. You will find that they are born just as easily.