Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Games That Told Us Where We Belonged

The following series of posts will chronicle my first season of intramural basketball at Transylvania University. The stories are true, though may be chronilogically out of order due to the lapse of time. They are done in the style of and as an homage to one of my favorite McSweeneys' contributors.

. . . I was drinking a lot. But most of us where. The winter semester had just started up and most of us were finding it easier to get back in the groove with beers, rather than books, in our hands. Most week nights the campus gym would be filled with a different assortment of pick-up basketball players each vying for a chance to prove they belonged on their respective courts. My friends and I were eager as well. We were freshman and wanted to see how we stacked up against the older competition.

The sudden drop in temperature and shortened daylight hours are a welcomed time of the year for any basketball fan or pale person. Each player has the chance to live out their delusions of grandeur on the court. This would be the first winter season I could focus my athletic attention solely on basketball.

I joined some friends one early January night to play pick-up ball before the Intramural teams were established for the upcoming season. I was joined by The Athlete, The Puppet Master, The Phoenix, The Baseball Player, The Roommate, and Faceman. We found ourselves in a game soon enough, as The Phoenix, The Puppet Master, and were already Juniors and established in the pick-up circuit.

The Athlete was a good friend from highschool who had been better than me at any athletic endeavor we undertook. I secretly loathed him for this, but also enjoyed having such an athletic and loyal friend. He played for the school basketball team, thus ineligible for the intramural season. The Baseball Player was the second best basketball player within our group of friends and also an incredible athlete. He was from Cincinatti, land of the overbearing douchebags. However, he was more reserved, often quiet and unselfish to a fault. He was a dear friend, and I looked forward to playing with him for years to come. The Puppet Master was just below The Athlete and The Baseball Player in terms of skill level, having played a significant amount of organized basketball in highschool. He was a talented offensive player, often evoking highlights of Pearl Monroe when he spun his way to the basket. The Roommate lived with The Puppet Master and was one of the biggest guys in school. He stood about 6'5" with a long wingspan and v-shaped torso. He had large calves and would have been quiet an athlete if not for his timid nature and often clumsiness on offense. The Phoenix was a pure three point shooter. He was a good ball handler and would knock down open shots. Faceman was a do-it-all kind of player, working hard on defense to come up with big stops and get big steals. He was able to bang bodies with bigger guys in the lane and collect offensive rebounds and score easily on put-backs. He was shorter, but very muscular.

These first few pick-up games established three things: 1. The Baseball Player was on the A-League team and most likely its best player. The Puppet Master and The Roommate were perennail A-leaguers and would reclaim their spots on that team. 2. The Phoenix, Faceman, and myself would be playing C-League. 3. Our friend who could not play, The Greying Writer, would also be playing C-League.

Four fraternities and the Independents compete in intramural sports. Basketball is divided into three leagues, A, B, and C. Each fraternity and the group of independents put one team together for the A and B Leagues. A-League usually consists of ex-college basketball players or really talented high school players. There wasn't much drop off to B-League in certain years, and consisted of either high-school players or just talented athletes. C-League was where I would be playing, along with most of my friends. C-League included guys who played basketball recreationally growing up, but were never good enough to play for really competitive teams. Each organization could enter as many teams as it wanted into C-League which created a large range of talent between the top team and the bottom team. We were placed on what was thought to be the most highly talented Independent team, which would compete for a championship that year. I was excited, as I think we all were. We were playing with friends and being coached by The Baseball Player, The Puppet Master, and The Athlete.

I returned to the dorms later that night and found my roommate, The Greying Writer. He was likely eating hummas or rotten cheese, but my memory fails me. His schedule was filling up with a part-time job and a lead role in an upcoming spring play. I worried that his focus would not be on the upcoming season, but decided, so too with my legs, it was better left to rest. I had an hour or two of homework left to do that night. Our couch looked comfortable. Video games also sounded pretty good. Laughing from outside, in the hall, interrupted my thoughts. I went to the hallway and found a small, overweight, shirtless Jew classmate. He was drunk and dancing to Tupac's "California Love" while swinging his rugby polo over his head in a lassoeing motion. I called The Puppet Master on his dorm room telephone to describe the events. He wouldn't have it. He sprinted across campus to witness it himself. Watching the demise of any hope this boy could have for a normal college life, I began to think about the beginning of mine. Our new college friends had all returned to campus and we were anxios to spend the year as established friends, rather than the previous semester of becoming friends. I watched the face of The Puppet Master light up like a boy who had just seen a new bicycle left under the tree by Santa Clause and I thought to myself - This is going to be a great semester.


Blogger Runs With One Horse said...

Will this be a daily feature? I hope so.

May 29, 2008 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger jb said...

Chicken Nugget

May 30, 2008 at 12:26 PM  

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