I remember when I dunked in a basketball game.
When I was in junior high, I developed a love for the game of basketball. I wasn’t even close to being one of the taller kids in the class at the time, and I hadn’t played organized basketball before. But I signed up for the team anyway, and I made my way onto the “B” team my sixth grade year. That year along with the other two years in junior high, I played guard. My seventh grade year, I actually made the “A” team. And I saw limited playing time for a team that eventually won the league championship. In eighth grade, I started for the team as one of the guards although I may have also had playing time as a forward.
In high school, I didn’t go out for the team. I was intimidated by the size of the upperclassmen and other taller kids in my class. If I’m honest, I was also afraid of getting cut from the team. I still loved the game. I followed the Philadelphia 76ers fairly closely, and I started to follow the playing career of Michael Jordan. I dreamed of being able to dunk the basketball someday especially late in high school as I finally began to grow. Throughout high school, I continued to play pick up games whenever I had the chance.
When I arrived at Grove City College, I was placed in the section of the freshmen dorms where most of the basketball players lived. I’m not sure if that was meant to further intimidate me or to spur me on to play more basketball. I played a lot of pickup basketball games in the school gym, and I eventually started playing on intramural teams for my housing group. As college progressed, I kept trying to dunk. I could throw a tennis ball down fairly easily, but I struggled to palm the basketball and get high enough to actually throw down a slam.
Through the encouragement of friends, I started lifting – doing toe raises whenever possible. Meanwhile, I kept trying to dunk. Eventually, I got to the point where I could inch the ball over the rim. It wasn’t a solid slam, but it was close enough at the time. As I kept practicing, I realized that I would have to work a lot harder if I was going to get high enough and coordinated enough to actually put one down in one of the intramural games.
And so I worked, and worked, and worked some more. I kept practicing. I persevered and persisted until I consistently could dunk in warm ups. My teammates knew I was getting close, and they kept talking about trying to set me up for a slam in a game.
The game finally arrived in the middle of my senior year. Leanne was at the game as a spectator and as my girlfriend. Somewhere in the middle of the game, the moment arrived. Our team stole the ball, and I jumped in front of the other team on a fast break. My teammate fed me the ball. A few more dribbles and I was near the hoop. As I picked up the ball, I stretched towards the basket. With two hands, I threw the ball through the hoop, and I grabbed on to the rim. I hung on the rim for a second or two to make sure I didn’t get undercut my the chasing players and to enjoy the moment. As I let go of the rim, I fell to the floor landing on my to feet as the crowd went wild.
The moment was surreal. I remember feeling as though I was floating as I ran back down the court and prepared to play defense. What a feeling!
And that’s how I remember when I first dunked in a game.
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