A Disappointed Athlete Finds His Place on the Courtcsudhbulletin October 25, 2018 0 COMMENTS
By Joshua Samuel
My life changed forever when I was a sophomore at Los Angeles Senior High School. After one of the most humiliating experiences of my life, I found the direction I wanted it to go after high school.
Like many kids, I’d long dreamed of playing sports professionally. Mine was basketball. I learned early on that I just was not physically talented enough to play at that level, but I still tried.
As a sophomore, I was a member of the junior varsity basketball team, but I rarely played. Of 16 games that season, I played only three. Those also happened to be the only three games we lost.
It was a disappointing season, but I was committed to getting better in the off-season and making the coach realize that I could be effective. But that quickly ended. A few months later, on the first day of training camp, my teammates and I were tasked with running hills. I tried my best to keep up, but I just couldn’t. At the end of the day, my coach pulled me to the side and said:
“I don’t understand why you’re always the last one to finish running. You only weigh 100 pounds and your head is another 50 pounds.”
He was laughing, but it wasn’t a friendly laugh. Peering into my eyes, he warned me that if I didn’t pick up the pace I would be cut from the team.
On the bus, midway to my house, I got off and ran home. I was tired and my clothes were drenched from sweat. I was determined to prove my coach wrong, so I skipped my homework and dinner. I went outside and ran. This time I pushed myself farther and started lifting weights. When the night was over, I laid my big head on the pillow and fell asleep.
The next day, the head coach and assistant coaches all had their eyes on me while running hills. I was keeping up with everyone. Then: Boom! Suddenly, my shoes came untied and I fell to the ground.
I tried reasoning with the coach, but he wasn’t listening. He went straight to my locker and took away my jersey. They even changed the code to the locker room to keep me from entering.
Running away from the gym with my head down, I headed straight home, locked my bedroom door and cried.
When I finally calmed down, I watched highlights of my favorite player, Stephen Curry, from the Golden State Warriors. He was just like me. He was small. Coaches doubted him, but he found a way to make it to the NBA
I knew I couldn’t play professionally, but I still wanted to impact the game.
Then it hit me: I could talk about the game.
I turned on my TV, the volume full blast. I watched every basketball game I could, paying close attention to what the announcers were saying. And then I tried it myself. I muted the TV and called out plays while also spinning anecdotes for every player.
I recorded my voice calling out a game. Two days before the season began I walked into my coach’s office. He was surprised to see me. The first thing he asked was, “how the hell did you get inside?”
I mumbled, “The assistant coach let me in.”
Before he called security I told him I was there to offer something. My school didn’t have a game play-by-play announcer, someone to speak in the microphone during games and provide stats and player introductions. So I asked him if I could try out for the position.
Out came my phone and the recent recording. The coach jumped from his desk and his eyes lit up.
“Joshua, this is incredible,” he yelled. “Why didn’t you tell me you had this talent?”
I just shrugged my shoulders, realizing I had just found my place on the court.