Dribbling Genetics

Claire_Hoops

Photo by Dana King

I don’t like sports, never have.
I played them because that’s what boys did.
My father was a coach
so I did not have much of a choice.
To show up. To participate.
The only lessons I learned on a court.

For years I watched him take bleachers full of kids
and bring them to their feet. Run them ragged
and make their sneakers squeak, with each
new blow of his whistle.
Dribbling to find themselves.
As I did.
I realized I was not skilled.
Not like my brothers and friends.
I would not gain any respect with any ball.
I was a bench warmer who dreaded it all.

Only six years old to join a team.
To feel your place in the space between
bodies struggling to find reason.
As all jockey for position.

As I tried to jump into the heavens, three inches high.
As I dreamed of Jordan and his six foot gazelle glide.

Proud to see my nephews inherited my dad’s gifts.
They were ballers and made all the teams.
They led by example, became champs, broke records,
while collecting trophies which now plaster their museum bedroom walls.
I still can’t imagine being the best at anything
for the adjective “athlete” was never in the cards for me.

Now a father, life is my coach.
Yesterday, I took my eight year old
to buy her first basketball.
She made the team and is ready to train.
On her own, she is passionate for the game.
To play in a basketball league.
To play hoops, to make baskets, to run the drills.
She seems to be another natural.

Yesterday, I summoned my father as I taught her to play HORSE.
We passed, we ran, we dribbled together as I spoke of
the legends of the ball whose blood she shares.

Coming home, I heard myself passionately say,
“You are a natural athlete.”
She quickly responded, “Daddy, daddy look at that moth.”

I laughed thinking, she has no idea what talents she’s got.
Somehow, sports dribbled a generation.
From a little boy who could not.
To my little girl who is already connecting the dots.
Daddy, “Look at that moth. Look at that moth.”
Pointing her finger at the beautiful spectacle of nature
that I did not see above me, while deep in thought.

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