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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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another boring anecdote, sports related!
On my fifth viewing of the last minute of the UT-USC game today--as my father and uncle are unaccountably addicted to rewatching the entire damn thing - I totally got why rewatches are so damn cool.

Thing is, I am not a football person. I went to a high school that made football a religious experience--and hi, anyone who survived a Texas public high school knows about that--and I was a JV and JH cheerleader, marching band, etc, because well, I went to a small school and there really wasn't that much to *do*. And they're relatively short, compared to the college and pro level. You got on your tiny skirt, burned off a lot of energy jumping up and down, you get the good seats on the bus to out of town games, and there are nachos and getting out of last period early. There is no bad in this. Of course, I'm the only cheerleader who also always had a pretty good excuse on why I couldn't wear my uniform to school for the day, becuase showing that much leg freaked me the hell *out* and I was only thirteen. Seriously, I was five foot eight by then; my legs were over half my body height. It was not of the fun.

And we? Had a really, really bad football team. By the time I was in high school, we--really, cannot talk about it.

However, we had a kick-ass marching band, excellent twirlers, a state level qualifiying girls basketball team, and some of the highest school scores in the state for our size, so really, it's not like we weren't good to go.

But. That last minute of the UT-USC game--even though I know how it ends, even though I know that the nineteenth second is the kicker, even knowing how it ends, how everything changes--damn did I lose my breath. I always do at the end, and some of it is generalized connection with my state, but a lot of it is memory.

There was this one basketball game, when I was in junior varsity. It wasn't a huge one, just part of the season, but two of our starters were doing rotation on varsity, and so I'd been moved to start, and our coach was off doing something, so the high school football coach was our coach.

Let me say this again--high school football coach.

A lot of the problem was, I wasn't a starter. I was the one sent in second quarter to relieve the starter, and I usually ended the game.

The game was like any other games at first, except for the first time I had to do the jump for the ball right off the bat, and second, coach read the newspaper through the entire thing. It was the longest four quarters of my life, and I'm counting that last hour before they shot me up when I was in labor with Child, because at least then, someone noticed I was about to crack. He didn't direct us on what our strategies were, and so didn't save us a lot of energy by ordering zoning instead of man-to-man. We kind of tried it on our own, with our point giving him desperate looks that he'd nod at, father-like, and then she'd come up with something that sometimes even worked, and we were falling behind and something in all of us just--snapped.

He kept forgetting to send anyone in to give us a breather, or he'd send them in for like, a clock two minutes and then throw us back in when we'd barely had time to get a drink of water. By the halfpoint, me and two others hadn't been off the floor in a flat hour, no time-outs, and between seven girls on the court at verious times, we'd racked up something along the lines of eleven or twelve fouls.

Half-time, he sent the starters back in, me with this incredulous expression of shock, because my knees were bruised and some girl with a really great manicure had done a serious turn for the catty on my wrist, and I couldn't even feel my toes--and all of us just snapped. You could actually feel the second we came out of oh god is this happening shock and moved into, we have to kill someone and it's probably going to have to be the other team, because our school will take it badly if we kill the football coach. So we kind of drudge out there and stare at each other for a second, because two of us weren't even starters, but by God and every single missed free-throw, if they were going to give us a football coach and not even use the rest of hte second string, everyone who had ever met us was goingn to regret it so much.

I remember flashes of most of it--when I say we went beyond exhausted, so not kidding, and right into manic, where we'd do anything, and I mean up to and including prying the ball out of someone's cold dead hands to get this thing over with. At some point late in the third quarter, my replacement ignored our coach and checked herself in to replace me when I started trying to make shots from the three point line because hey, so what if I was a post and never meant to touch the ball except when tossed to me to make a shot. I was in that place where I wasnt' evne able to stand up straight from the stitch in my side. A couple of others followed her lead, and I was practically bouncing on the bench from incipient hysteria, which was unfortunate, as he didn't take this as a sign of someone about to collapse, but someone refreshed, and I so should have seen that coming.

The last quarter, no one left the court until two of our starters fouled out. By then, the ones coming in just got up and checked in without even glancing at our coach.

I wish I could really get the idea across that never in the history of our JV basketball team had anyone fouled out of a game. We were not that aggressive, no matter how much our coach tried to nail it into us. I could not deliberately go out to cause ruckus and get that ball. But. We totally connected with our inner savages and I knocked people over and tossed myself bodily on someone making a shot and got up to my full height right over them and *scared* them down to get that damn ball. I dribbed the ball and did possibly the first layup from the foul line I've ever accomplished (airborne, whee!) because I really believed that this was the day that if I wasn't allowed to breathe, I also could not possibly miss, and that was true. We tripped them and scratched and played keep away, used elbows and knees in ways unsanctioned by UIL rules, and *ran* after that ball like our lives depended on it, or at least our sanity, and God help you if you got in our way, teammate or opposition, you were fucked. The two that came in to replace in short order picked up our lack of humanity and got themselves a three and two fouls each in under three timer minutes (as opposed to clock minutes) and so we were at a point where the five girls now on the floor were at four fouls, four fouls, three fouls, three fouls, two fouls, and five gets you out, so you can see where this is going. No one on teh bench was foul-less. At our rate, we could conceivably foul the entire team out of the game. It was just that kind of a night.

It was a relatively close game most of the way through, they were a team we had to work to beat when we *had* everyone there and we had our normal coach, but none of us could breathe and most of us were bruised and I couldn't feel anythign below my knees and sweated straight through my uniform and my hair was just *wet*. Our point was grinning so hard I thought her face would crack wide open and I was giggling hysterically when I was knocking people on their asses when I wasn't gasping for breath, and for the first time, I actually saw another team scared of us. Not just scared, like, they might win, but scared like, I think they're trying to kill us right here and right now. I made more shots than I ever had in a single game, all of us did, like the fucking things were laser guided, I ran full-body into someone with the ball and ended up on my ass, and when the buzzer went off for the end of the game, we had no idea what it was for.

We looked at the crowd on their feet yelling so loudly it was almost enough to drown out the sounds of our hearts beating, and our team coming off the benches in slow-motion shock, and our coach putting down his newspaper. I was kneeling on the court and my throat hurt so much that I could barely talk and we were all dripping sweat in the literal sense, my teammates were in various stages of exhaustion all around me, and someone touched my back to get my attention and get me to my feet before I decided to pass out right there, or start seriously cramping up.

Kind of dazed, we all stared up at the scoreboard, blinking to bring it into focus. I don't remember the score, and I have fuck-all memory of who made that last shot or how they did it, and really, that last minute of almost-legal violence is all melded together into a lot of pain that I can live without the memory of.

Four second-stringers and a third-string on the court at the end of the game, two foul-outs, and no coach.

But we won. That crowd was yelling for us.

Come to think, that was a pretty good night.

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1. Wow, impressed the coach isn't dead.


Wow. That's a really cool story. And, honestly, a great example of why your writing gets me so involved, beause I ws sitting here and *not breathing*, waiting to read the end.

And considering I don't know sports, don't know basketball, don't know what these things mean other than what I've picked up from context (and your explanations), that's pretty damn cool.

*points frantically above*


As basketball coach,this post was just *hilarious*. Poor Jenn, finding your inner savage and making a LAY UP! *g* Maybe it was a cunning mind game by the coach to get you guys really fight for it by....er,....reading the paper? Maybe?

Hey :) ladytulip here, just letting you know I friended you!

Uhhhh strangeness... I was aiming for someone else's journal and hit yours, instead. Sorry ;)

I am laughing so hard my eyes are watering.

I have very few good sports related stories. There was like, the time when I was in third grade and I got my front permanent tooth knocked out and everyone in the gym was freaking out and they had to put it in milk, and they only figured out to do that because they called my mom and she's like, put it in MILK YOU FREAKS. Or the time where I was swinging a golf club in gym and my watch went flying off, and I hit it with the club and beaned one of the gym assistants on the head and gave him a scar.

...actually, I have lots of sports related stories, just not...cute ones like this. *laughing*

It makes a great story now, though *g*

Go you!


sometimes sports is like that. it's one of the things i like about watching it.

despite "the sheer pointlessness of the zero-zero tie" - oh, soccer, you strange game, you.

pah. it's american sports that are weird. A nil-nil game if it's been played and fought well is much better than a high-scoring one where they weren't making the effort, and any footie fan can tell you that.

I was quoting Sports Night, with that "sheer pointlessness" line.

My mom and I were watching the USC-UT game -yes for about the 4th or 5th time- and were talking, and saying how sports is one of the very few instances where amazing, incredible, scary, horrifying, wonderous, brave and even miraculous things still happen on a regular basis.

It really sucks that the subsitute coach didn't have enough respect for that to even pay attention to the game.

He was a Texas high school football coach -- the next thing to Jesus Christ in this state. And he was subbing for frickin' girls basketball, a sport which doesn't get much respect (unless you have a HS like mine, where for a few years the girls' basketball team kicked ass and therefore were everyone's darlings). No wonder he didn't care to handhold -- though in relation to what I'd read recently about how football coaches are supposed to be all about fostering the will-to-win in the team but letting the players learn how to make their own calls, it really could in part have been a deliberate attempt to make the basketball team play their own game for their own good.

Yeah, I'm sure-JV basketball at that, so I'm sure he didn't have much respect for them...it's just that I'd like to think that people in sports actually have a love and respect for sports. Not just the big leagues or the first string or the boys, but the nature of what it is...naive I know, but I'm not even an athelete and I can manage it, so it'd be nice if they could too.

Then again, giving him the benefit of the doubt, A) he was coming in and dealing with someone else's team with probably no real idea of how the regular coach handled them -- I can see him deciding to let them fall back on their regular training rather than risking confusing them by trying to teach them something new in the middle of a game, and B) how he handled it did lead to them winning the game.

So, yeah. If he'd slacked off on his coaching duties and they'd lost miserably, it would be easy to call him uncaring or negligent. But given that they wound up winning, it's hard at this remove to say whether he was being smart or just lucked out.

Damn. *wide-eyed and breathless, and I've never seen a live game of basketball in my life*

Your journal makes me snarf coffee. That is all. Carry on.



I was the only one in my house who lasted all the way through the USC/UT game - I'm from PA, so you can guess where all the familial footballing energy had been expended. (And, hey, I think I just slashed a sporting event. Huh.) Consequently, the household got to hear me yelling, "Seriously, you guys quit before that!?! Oh, how it sucks to be you right now! Hah!"

The Father actually did a spit take when informed of the outcome. I'm a vindictive little shit, and thus laughed heartily. Go perserverance and insomnia.

Oh, and as to the basketball story: I pretty much can't stand to sit through a full game in real life, and you still made me read wide-eyed. You win again.

Kind of reminds me of an article I read recently (on Slate or somewhere like that) where a guy familiar with how HS football and/or college football used to be complained at today's coaches handholding their teams through every little play as opposed to letting them get out there and learn to run things for themselves and judge their own risks.

And I'm having to relate that to something I read because I have absolutely no HS or college sports experience -- didn't play, didn't attend games, didn't cheerlead, cut the pep rallies my senior year of HS, and never watched my college games on TV.

I went to a high school that made football a religious experience--and hi, anyone who survived a Texas public high school knows about that

Dear god, you just sent me back to high school so hard. Westwood HS, that is, Round Rock ISD. Our colors were burnt orange and white, just like UT (omg, what an amazing coincidence!) and we were taught Social Studies by a football coach. God bless Texas.

Heh -- every single male teacher I had in high school (and several of the female teachers, too) coached something. My calculus teacher (assistant football coach and drove a bus, too) was pretty aboveboard about how they needed that extra kick to their paychecks.

This is really a lot later than I like to comment on most entries, but hey, it's about basketball.

I'm from central KY--football's not a big thing, even for really close games I don't get that excited.
Basketball, however, is an entirely different story. In KY, basketball is a religion (and Rupp Arena is it's St. Peter's, it's Temple, and it's Mecca all rolled into one). So I can totally understand how crappy it is when football coaches try to coach basketball, and how the entire team can just snap and foul out two players. (I went to a grade school that had a basketball rivalry that had lasted for fifty years.)
This is a great story, for me, because I can see it happening at every high school in my state. And God have mercy on the other team.

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