Life lessons learned from basketball

I am seeing a lot of basketball going on this time of year and it brings back so many memories.  This is the time of year when the playoffs start.  My love for basketball goes way back — all the way to the 6th grade.  I didn’t even know back then I loved it until someone begged me to try out for the sport.

When I was growing up, you had to try out for a team. You had to work hard because all didn’t make the team.  They really did cut people if you didn’t hold up to the standard they were looking for.

Well, that year I did make the 7th and 8th grade team. That was after I worked my tail off.  I guess you can say that was the first year I fell in love with sports and competing. I am very competitive and love a great challenge. 

Growing up, we had to try out for any sport.  There was no just walking on the team.  If you worked hard and showed teamwork, you got to play.  

One of my fondest memories was when I was in 9th grade and I was getting ready to try out for what I thought was just junior varsity basketball.  We had a meeting and the coach said, “Two of you freshmen will make the varsity team this year.  Who wants it more?”  I went home all nerved up and couldn’t sleep. 

I remember what was told to me by an older person that day.  They said, “You want the position?  You need to earn it!  How do you do it?  Go after every ball that is loose.  Get in the middle of it all and keep your butt up against someone and get all the rebounds  you can get.  Hustle, hustle, hustle and when you think it is enough hustle some more. Don’t let a loose ball get away.  Dive after every ball.”

 That day I did just that.  I had the juniors and seniors so mad some couldn’t concentrate.  But all my hard work paid off.  The next day we went to the sports board and my name was on the varsity list.  I made the varsity team as a freshman.  This was one of my most exciting things in life.

I was used that year to help build the team and to make me better at basketball.  I had several bumps and bruises and was very tired after every practice.  You see, I had two practices a day.  I would practice with the junior varsity and then have to turn around and practice with the varsity.  I was willing to do whatever it took so I could just be seen on the varsity team.

The highlight of the year was the 19 seconds I got to play in one game that season. I was sitting on the bench and all engrossed in the game when the coach said, “Willette,  get in the game.”  Who me?  I’m sure I had a look of shear terror on my face.  

She said, “Are you going in or not?”  

Here we go.  I ran up there and went in and then felt like I turned around and came back out.  But I didn’t care.  I never complained I was just glad I was part of the team.

I am so glad I taught my boys the same lesson while they were growing up.  Work hard in all you do.  Never give up or quit.  Quit complaining and do what it takes to make it work.

I wish we could go back to the way the teams were back then.  No matter what sport you played, it is not about everybody wins in my book. Not everyone gets to play every game.  Not everyone gets a trophy.  I think if we can teach our kids that at an early age, life wouldn’t be so hard on them.  

We need to teach them that we work hard at no matter what we do.  If you start something you have to finish it.  

In games someone always wins and someone always loses.  

Parents should also let the coaches do their jobs.  Stop interfering in their coaching.  I know I never went home and complained about my coach. If I did my parents told me to suck it up and work harder.  

That is what life is about.  I was always taught to work harder than the next person beside you.  I guess that’s why I am so competitive in life.  No one is going to hand you something no matter what you do.  You get somewhere in life because of how hard you work not on the shirttails of someone else.

KING CAKE BITES

INGREDIENTS:

Bites

1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp cinnamon

2 cans (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp milk

yellow, green, purple sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar and lemon juice with mixer until well blended.

Separate dough into 8 rectangles; seal seams. Sprinkle each rectangle with approximately 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Spread cream cheese mixture down middle of each rectangle. Fold each rectangle lengthwise into thirds to enclose filling (bring long edges up to cover cream cheese); cut each into 4 squares. Place, seam-sides down, on baking sheet.

Bake 13 to 15 min. or until golden brown. Cool slightly.

Mix together remaining 1 cup powdered sugar and milk. Spread on top of King Cake Bites and sprinkle with colored sugars.

Tina Specht is co-publisher of the Minden Press-Herald. She shares her thoughts and recipes each Thursday.