So I've been watching the TV show Friday Night Lights on Netflix. Okay, so watching is an understatement. More like addicted to the story of a high school football team from a small town in Texas. Part of my love for this show stems from the fact that I think Kyle Chandler is beautiful...but that's besides the point. Part of it is in its portrayal of middle-America. The characters are true to life. Their stories are relatable. Part of it is probably the fact that my high school was too small to have football, so I find the culture fascinating and so very different. But part of my love for this show is in the fact that it is the same as when I played sports in high school. I think I cry at some point in every episode. Every motivational speech from Coach Taylor. Every desperation play. Sports shows and movies get me. They cut me to the core. I miss playing sports everyday of my life. When you're in high school, your coaches tell you that this is the best time of your life. At the time, you shrug it off. You don't believe them. Or if you do, you don't want to. But this weekend -- especially this weekend since it's Homecoming in my little Illinois basketball town -- I miss it. I remember it all like it was yesterday.
It's been 6 years to the day...and I still remember every second of that game. It might be silly, but I still consider scoring my 1000th career point one of my proudest achievements. And what made it even better was that I got to share it with a teammate who scored her 1000th just one game before me -- that just doesn't happen. While she got to celebrate hers at home in front the hometown crowd, mine came on the road. It was a Saturday afternoon at Bloomington Central Catholic. Our hated rival who always seemed to get the best of us. So scoring my 1000th point in their gym and taking the ball from their court made it even sweeter. I had been stressing about eclipsing the mark all season. It had gotten to my head and affected my play. It was almost like a curse. But with a baseline jumper in the first quarter the curse was broken. On a day like that, you remember it all. The sound the ball on the hardwood, the swish of the net, the cheers of the crowd. The congratulatory high five from your coach as you run down the court. The smile you couldn't wipe off your face. The PA announcer. The athletic director handing you that ball as you walked out of the locker room. The joy that no one could take away from you.
Watching Friday Night Lights (and probably my history class on American Identity) has reminded me just how much playing basketball in a small town has shaped my identity. It helped make me who I am...and it will always be a part of me. I remember it like it was yesterday -- and I miss it everyday.