She Got Game

She Got Game Pt1

This was not a good time for Andrea (Andi). She had lived in the same town for 16 years. She had been going to school with many of the same kids since kindergarten. She knew her neighbors and frequented many of the local shops and eateries. She had entered her junior year and was looking forward to graduating with her class the next year. Then, her family had to move. It was better for them, she realized that. Her dad had been out of work for over a year and her mom had to take on extra hours at her job and take on whatever other projects she could. Andi’s sister Gina was 19 and was away at college, so, it was her and her brother Kyle still at home. Andi had taken an after school job to help out (though it reduced some of her school activities). Kyle was only 14, so, he wasn’t able to yet. Though, Andi was thankful her dad had found something, she did wish it had been closer to home, instead of, in another state.
One thing, which she wasn’t too pleased with, but attempted to downplay was, the fact that her new school didn’t have a girl’s basketball team. She had been on a team for the past five years. At first the coaches had tried her out in all the positions. It was soon apparent that most of her skill and talent was as a point guard. She was one of the shorter girls, 5’4″, with a medium build, which was toned, but, a little more curvy than many of her teammates. Which proved that looks could be deceiving. Most wouldn’t have thought of her as being athletic. She was and had played softball and badminton as well. She was also cerebral, favoring English, history and drama, for her courses. This school had those. That wasn’t a problem. No basketball team for girls? How backwoods was that? It was a small town, but, really. Her friend Rayanne (Ray) asked her why didn’t she check out the boy’s team and see about trying out for that. Ray didn’t play sports, so, what did she know? “You’re crazy, girl. I doubt they’d allow that. If they wanted girls playing, they’d have a team for them.” Andi responded, a little frustrated. “Not necessarily. They might just need someone like you to show them the way. What if you got on the boy’s team? How swag (cool) would that be? You’re an awesome player, Andi. You could kick some serious butt.” Ray said, with growing enthusiasm. Andi was quiet for a few moments. She considered the idea. It did have possibilities. She had played against her guy friends, but, had never thought of being on the boy’s team, since, there was one for girls. As her new school didn’t have one, why shouldn’t she give it a go? She had a mixture of emotions. Feeling exhilarated and trepidatious both. “I don’t know, Ray, maybe. I’ll check out the situation when I get there.” This was the best she could offer.

She Got Game PT2

Andi was a little nervous about starting at the new school. Though, she was gregarious, much of the time, it was easier before, because, she had known the other kids most of her life. So, she had no trouble being outgoing. Her mom told her it shouldn’t take long for her to find her rhythm. She was pretty adaptable. If she joined some clubs (as she had at the old school), then, she’d be making friends in no time. Part of her, almost, didn’t care if she did. She was only going to be with them for 1 ½ years, it seemed like it was a waste to put forth any effort. She’d just do her time and move on. She had college to think about. She might take a year off before she attended.
She had already visited the campus and met with her teachers. The curriculum was comparable to what she had been learning at her previous school. She tried to see if she was picking up any sort of vibe from the people there. Each place you went to had a certain type of atmosphere. Schools and work especially because of all the hours spent together. She couldn’t tell what the blending of personalities there held in store for her. She would just have to take things as they came. Ray said if she played basketball it would get her to feel comfortable. She didn’t know how that would help. She would be playing against boys and she wasn’t sure she was up for it. Besides, they probably wouldn’t let her join anyway.
Her first day of class her mom drove her. Andi would normally be walking, as they lived just a couple of miles from the school. Of course, she might make a friend who had a car. She didn’t even have a license yet – her parents wanted her to wait until she graduated first. Her mom wanted to take her to give her a pep talk and help calm her fears. “Sweetie, before you know it, you’ll be the most popular girl in school.” Her mom told her, with sincerity. Andi responded with a soft chuckle. “I wasn’t even popular before. What makes you think that will change?” “You’ll be around different people. Besides you had plenty of friends. I think you stood out more than you realized.” Her mom told her.
Andi was glad it wasn’t a long drive because she was sure her mom would continue that line of conversation. Though, Andi hadn’t been an outcast, she never considered herself one of the favored. Maybe some would have thought that about her (her mom obviously did) because she had a diversity of friends. If she only had a few friends here, that would be fine. It was just to help her get through until after graduation, when, her real life would begin. Having been uprooted like this, she was definitely ready to move on. She would, most likely, be going out of state for college.

She Got Game PT3

When they reached the school parking lot, Andi felt a little embarrassed. Her mom had taken her to school before, but, that was when more people knew her. She wasn’t sure why she cared whether anyone saw her with her mom. She wasn’t there to impress people. Not that she intended to make a fool of herself either. “Mom, would it be okay if you stopped out on the street. I wanted to walk the rest of the way.” Andi expressed. Her mom looked at her curiously. She didn’t say anything, but, she did pull over a little ways before the entrance. She often kissed her mom on the cheek, when they parted, but, she skipped that as well. Andi pushed the car door open and jumped out. “Thanks, mom. Bye.” She told her, as she began walking toward the school. She was glad her mom didn’t look hurt.
As she approached the main building, to check in at the office (she was already registered and had received her class schedule so it was just a formality), she noticed groups hanging around. Including some jocks. She couldn’t tell if they were basketball players. She went up the steps and inside. If anyone paid attention to her, they didn’t acknowledge her. She made her way to the office. She opened the door and went to the counter. The principal and vice principal were both in their offices. The secretary was at her desk. An assistant came up to the counter. “How may I help you?” She inquired. “I’m Andrea Delfino. I was told to stop by here on my way to class.” Andi said. “Thank you. It makes our job easier. You don’t know how many people neglect to do this.” She said, making notes in a book. She asked if there was anything Andi needed. When there wasn’t, they finished up.
As Andi turned from the counter, a girl, who she had seen sitting on one of the chairs, stood up and introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Janna. I’m the student body prez. I’m also the head of the welcoming committee. I wanted to officially welcome you to Maplewood High.” Janna stated, cheerily. She was holding out her right hand so Andi took a hold of it and they shook. “Thanks. I’ve never heard of a welcoming committee at school before. That’s cool.” Andi exclaimed. “We think so too. It’s been in place almost since the school was established, 60 years ago.” Janna responded. They had walked out into the hall. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to walk you to your home room.” Janna continued. “Sure, why not? The office assistant asked if I needed anything. There is one thing I’m curious about.” Andi replied. “What did you want to know?” Janna returned. “I’ve played on a basketball team for five years. I was hoping to do so here as well. They don’t have a girl’s team, though. Why not?” Andi said. “We did, for awhile, but, it never really took off. Not enough girls wanted to play and it was difficult to generate a lot of community support. Sexist, I know, that’s the way it is.” Janna informed her. Andi wanted to know more, but, the first bell had rung, so, she’d have to find out another time.

She Got Game PT4

Andi opened the door to her home room and looked around for a seat. The teacher was standing at her desk, going through some files. Andi would have preferred to sit in the middle of the room, but, most of the seats were at the back. Which was surprising. She figured most people wouldn’t want to be up front. Of course, it was only home room. It was meant for reading announcements and giving updates. Not for doing any work or taking tests. She slid into a seat near the rear and placed her back pack on the floor. She glanced around her. Even though she didn’t plan to show interest, she was an observer and it was just natural for her to pick up on details. The students here appeared to be similar to the ones where she came from. She would soon find out if they had personalities like that also.
Unlike Janna, who was friendly, no one else paid her any mind. She supposed Janna had to. Being both the head of the welcoming committee and the student body prez. It was her first day there. It might take them a little time to warm up to her. Soon, the instructor (who was named Ms. Ballantine) was addressing the class. She was taking roll call, chatting with some of the students as she went. When she came to Andi’s name, she had Andi stand up and be recognized. The rest of the kids gave her a quick hello and then went back to their own thing. Andi sat back down. She was glad Ms. Ballantine didn’t have her give a bio of her life. Ms. Ballantine then read some school news.
One of the things she mentioned was that basketball tryouts would be next week. Andi gave a little grunt, as if to say, who cares? One of the boys (who turned out to be named, Matt) leaned in to her. “Not a fan of basketball or sports in general?” He asked, giving her a grin. Not that she thought it was any of his business, but, she answered anyway. “I do enjoy watching most sports and playing some. Basketball is my favorite. I was on a team for five years, where I lived before.” “I’m guessing you would have went out for the team here, if, they had one for girls. That must really suck for you.” He noted. “Yeah, it kind of does.” She agreed. “Sorry about that. Maybe you could be a cheerleader. At least, root the team on.” He offered. “I don’t think so. Thanks anyway.” She responded, turning away, before he could tell her he thought she’d look good in a cheerleading uniform.
Ms. Ballantine wrapped things up and told everyone to have a good day. The bell rang and people started getting up, gathering their stuff and heading toward the door. “What’s your first class?” That was Matt, behind her. “Trig.” Was all she said. “Wow, smart girl. Math has never been my forte. I have English. When do you have English? Do you have Ms. Abbott?” He next queried. “Chatty, aren’t you? All I want to know is, do you play basketball or know someone who does?” She asked him, matter of factly. “Do you have a thing for players? I play baseball. I’m a catcher.” He mentioned. “That’s nice. I like baseball, but, I was more interested in basketball right now. Maybe we’ll talk another time.” She said the last, over her shoulder, as she rushed away.

She Got Game PT5

The rest of the day was uneventful. The teachers seemed okay, but, it was a little too soon to tell. Andi received an assignment in history, to read a chapter about World War II and to write her thoughts on it, according to current times. In English, she had a term paper due in a couple of weeks. Since she was new, they gave her an extra two weeks. It was a large part of her grade. She was to do a paper on four books which had a similar theme. Her other courses didn’t have any homework. No one, other than Matt, seemed to be that aware of her. She kept her eye out for him, as, she didn’t want him latching on to her. He was probably a sweet guy. She wasn’t looking for a boyfriend right now. Though, she probably shouldn’t assume he was hitting on her.
After school, she hung around the grounds, checking things out. There was a basketball court outside (as well as one in the gym) and there were a few guys playing a game of pick up. They seemed a bit disorganized, at first. Then, they demonstrated they had some real skills. She took a seat in the bleachers to watch. She would have preferred to be a little more unobtrusive. She didn’t exactly want to hide in the bushes. That would, no doubt, cause some talk. The guys seemed to be oblivious of her presence, until one of them trotted over to her. “Are you new? I don’t think I’ve seen you before.” He asked, panting a little from his exertions. “Yeah, it was my first day.” “I’m Zach. Do you like watching basketball or just guys?” He gave a hearty laugh. “Glad you amuse yourself, Zach. I’m Andrea. I do like basketball. In fact, I was previously on a team for five years, where I lived before.” She told him, wistfully.
“It’s too bad we don’t have a girl’s team here. Most of the time this school has been in existence, that’s been the case.” He told her, regretfully. “So I’ve heard. We’re here because my dad got a job. This was the school we would be living the closest to.” She replied. “I suppose, you could have went to a school outside the district. If basketball is that important to you.” He answered, sitting next to her. “It does matter, but, my family means more. This is how it worked out. I’m only here for 1 ½ years. I’m sure I’ll survive.” She said, with resignation.
“Are you going to give up all together? I don’t know many girls who like to play, but, one of my friends, Sara does. She’s even had petitions to get a girl’s team going again.” He told her, helpfully. “Apparently, to no avail. What sports are there here for girls?” She asked. “There’s golf. Not really the same, though.” He said, with a shrug. “How quaint. And, you’re right, not the same.” She told him, with a sigh. “I could introduce you to Sara. Sometimes the girls get some games going. Maybe she could hook you up.” He expressed, with enthusiasm. “Better than nothing.” She answered, thinking about Ray’s suggestion of trying out for the boy’s team.

She Got Game PT6

Andi told Zach that she needed to get going, but, that she would like to meet with Sara the next day if possible. He responded that this could be arranged and they parted ways. She left the school grounds and went back onto the street. Andi was curious about the neighborhood and considered investigating it. She really hadn’t had much opportunity to do so since they had moved here. Her family had mainly been occupied with getting their new home set up and they were still doing that. Maybe she would check around the area on the weekend. She would try to enjoy herself during the time she was here, although she did miss her hometown.
When she arrived back at the new home, she went around back (where they had a large yard), put her backpack down on one of the chairs on the patio and went over to the basketball hoop. The ball was lying beneath it so she picked it up and began to dribble it. She made a shot at the basket and missed. Darn! She was getting rusty. She would usually make it the first time. It had only been a few weeks since she had last played, but, she guessed that was enough to lose some of her ability. She had been use to playing pretty much everyday. Either by herself, with friends, or the team. Andi sighed. She hated being away from them. They would be starting their practice in the next week or so and she really wanted to be there.
Andi continued shooting and had gotten to 50% accuracy. She was better than that, if she didn’t mind saying so herself. She wouldn’t have been one of the star players if she was lacking. She had mad skills, as her dad would say. She’d roll her eyes at him. Using teen slang though, often a few years after that particular word or phrase was popular. He was just trying to relate, not, recapture his youth. He wasn’t making a fool of himself. He only said those things around his own kids – not their friends or random people. She was more than competent. She would say that and it’s something everyone could understand.
“Hey, Sis. Would you like a little friendly matchup?” That was her brother Kyle. He was accompanied by his friend Parker. “We promise not to beat you too badly.” He continued and both boys laughed at that. “I’ll be the one with the last laugh once I’m done with you.” Andi responded, with a knowing smirk. Kyle and Parker were decent, but neither of them played on a team. It was strictly just the guys fooling around a bit. She thought they could do well, if they put their minds to it. They were interested in other pursuits. Kyle with his drawing and Parker with his music (he played the sax). She dabbled in writing, but, didn’t have the same passion for it as they did for their art. “If you’re so confident, how about a small wager?” That was from Parker. “What did you have in mind?” Andi didn’t really want to bet, but, she was curious. “You win, you go on a date with me. I win, I go on a date with you.” Parker declared, with a huge grin. “Sounds like Andi loses either way. Besides, what about me?” Kyle asked, giving Parker a punch in the arm. Andi just shook her head at them.

She Got Game PT7

Right then their mom came out and told Andi that Ray was on the phone. “Saved by the bell.” Andi said, laughing at Kyle and Parker. “Are you staying for dinner?” She inquired of Parker. “I haven’t been invited yet.” He answered, “I’m sure our mom wouldn’t mind. If you don’t stay, then, I’ll see you later.” She told him and walked into the house. The boys decided to play a fantasy board game (which was already on the patio table). Parker’s mom had been relocated to a town an hour away. This was six months before Andi’s family had moved. She thought it was fortunate that Kyle was still able to hang out with his best friend. Ray’s family ran a family style restaurant, in the town where Andi had lived before and they didn’t have any plans for expansion.
Andi went into her room and picked up her phone. She called out to her mom to let her know that she had the phone. She heard her mom hang up the extension. “Hey, Ray.” She said to her friend. “Hi, Andi. How was your first day?” Ray questioned. “Nothing big. How was it for you?” Andi replied. “Same old, same old. It was strange not having you there. Especially to text you in Mr. Feldman’s class (that had been their 4th period English). They both chuckled at that. Mr. Feldman was pretty oblivious. They couldn’t have gotten away with that in any of their other classes. They had thought if they had gone old school and passed notes, he might have paid attention. They hadn’t tried it, because, they hadn’t wanted to get caught.
“I miss you too, Ray.” Andi told her, with feeling. She continued, “There was one thing which happened today that was interesting.” “You caught the eye of the homecoming king and now you’re a couple.” Ray answered, teasingly. “Yea, right. Not my goal. While I was watching some guys play basketball, on the outside court, one of them named Zach, came over to talk to me.” Andi noted. “And now you two are a thing.” Ray exclaimed: “What is it with you and getting me in a relationship? Would you just listen, silly? Andi responded, a tad annoyed. “Okay, sorry. “ Ray said, seriously.
“He told me he has a friend, Sara, who plays ball and who tried to get a girl’s team going here. Actually I found out from the student body prez that there had been a girl’s team for a while, years ago. There weren’t enough girls who wanted to play or who could play well. Plus, they weren’t able to garner much support from the town. Andi informed her. “Maybe you and this Sara could get it started again. Things have probably changed. How did you meet the student body prez anyway?” Ray responded. “She’s also the head of the welcoming committee. Which is kind of cool to have here. Zach is supposed to introduce me to Sara tomorrow. I’ll talk to her then about a girl’s team.” Andi commented.
“There’s always the idea of you trying out for the boy’s team.” Ray reminded her. “Your idea, not, mine.”Andi intoned.

She Got Game PT8

The next day, Andi mentioned to her mom, that she would be walking to school from now on. Her mom insisted that she continue to drive her – at least, for the first week. For some reason, her mother was being more protective than usual and it was becoming annoying. Andi supposed it was because they were in a new area. Before this, they had lived in the same neighborhood Andi’s whole life. She realized she was fortunate. Not everyone got to set down roots like this. Though, because of it, she was rather set in her ways. She figured at 16 she should be a little more adaptable and versatile.
She finally convinced her mom that it was okay for her to go on her own. This was actually a smaller town than the one they had lived in previously. Andi was smart and careful. She wasn’t as naïve and innocent as her mom was making her out to be. She was almost to the corner when her mom called out to her from their front yard. She wanted Andi to give her a call, when she reached school so that she knew that she had arrived safely. Andi heaved a big sigh. Why was her mom treating her like such a baby? She assured her mom that she would phone her.
As she walked along, she took in the sights and sounds of the new neighborhood. There were a few people tending to their gardens. Others were walking their dogs or in pairs or small groups. She acknowledged everyone who looked her way. When she got to school, she called her mom, mainly to get that out of the way, more than it being due to any sense of responsibility or loyalty. She was feeling rather rebellious and she liked that. Her mind drifted to what Ray had said about trying out for the boy’s team. There was a certain amount of rebellion in that. Going against the status quo. She wasn’t sure why the thought of that pleased her.
Andi gazed around. She was so used to Ray, Emilee, Zoey, Darren, Adam, Lucas and her other friends greeting her when she first got to school. It had been going on for years and it was strange to suddenly have that stop. Not that she was an attention hog. Still, it was nice to be noticed. By one’s own friends, anyway. As she checked out the other kids, she wondered which one, if any, might be Sara. She also speculated as to how Zach would locate her. As far as she knew, they didn’t have any classes together. It was only her second day. She would have to be more aware of her surroundings.
No one stopped her as she entered the school. She hadn’t determined whether they were unfriendly or just weren’t going out of their way. It wasn’t easy being the new person. She didn’t think she would have to deal with that until she went away to college. She had been living in a bubble, so to speak, for so long, that being outside her comfort zone was a bit nerve wracking. Life would be like that, though. Having new experiences and meeting different people. She was open to that, she just had thought she’d have a choice.

She Got Game PT9

Andi had home room, trig, English, chemistry and drama without running into Zach. He either wasn’t in any of those classes with her or he wasn’t there that day. She hoped it wasn’t the latter. She was eager to talk to Sara. It would be nice to have someone else there who played basketball. At lunch she went into the cafeteria. Unlike her old school, that had a set meal for each weekday, this one had a few different options. It was Tuesday, so, the offerings were pepperoni pizza, grilled chicken taquitos, pork eggrolls and chili mac. They also had bread (whole grain or sourdough), veggies (corn or broccoli) and dessert (sliced peaches or chocolate pudding). She got in line and debated what to get. When it was her turn, she selected the chili mac, sourdough, corn and pudding. During the season she usually ate more fruits, veggies and protein. Things which would give her energy and keep her weight from fluctuating too much. If she wasn’t going to be playing, who cared what she ate?
When they handed her her tray, she turned back toward the tables. She scanned the room, to see if there was anyone who looked approachable. It was difficult to tell. She was also checking around to see if she could spot Zach. She couldn’t, but, apparently he had detected her, because, as she went to get a table, she felt a hand on her right arm. She jumped slightly. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I guess I should have said your name first.” He expressed. When she glanced over her shoulder, he was giving her a lazy grin. “That might have helped.” She smiled back. “I told you yesterday that I would introduce you to Sara. She’s over there (he motioned his head a few tables over). Would you like to join us?” He responded, amiably. Andi accepted and they walked to where Sara and a few of their friends were.
Sara stood to shake Andi’s hand. When she did, Andi discovered that Sara was the tallest girl she had ever encountered. The tallest girls in her old school were Missy and Quinn (the latter being on the team). They were both 5’9.” Sara must have been well over 6.’ Andi felt positively diminutive compared to her. She quickly learned there was no reason to be intimidated. Sara was one of the sweetest people Andi had ever met. She had a quiet assurance about her. Some people would probably have lorded their height over others, not, Sara. They sat down and spent most of their lunch talking. Barely touching their food or engaging with the others. They were so absorbed in their conversation, especially, about basketball.
“Zach told me you tried to get a girl’s team going here again. What happened with that?” Andi inquired. “I started a petition. I was able to get 4800 signatures. From students, teachers, business owners, neighbors, family, family friends and more. Some friends and I presented it at the school board meeting and they listened politely, but, rejected the plan.” Sara said, strongly. “Why? It sounds like a lot of people were in favor of it. There may have been other people who would have signed. They just hadn’t heard about it yet.” Andi asked, perplexed. “They didn’t feel that it would be worth putting their limited resources toward it. Maybe if the townspeople themselves had made the initial outcry, then, it would have mattered, but, just a group of students, weren’t important enough.” Sara retorted. Andi wanted to find out more. The bell to return to class had rung, so, they had to end there. She made arrangements to meet Sara on the court after school.

She Got Game PT10

Andi couldn’t wait until she’d be able to talk with Sara again. It would be nice to have someone else who understood the thrill of the game. Andi’s adrenaline was kicking in at just the thought of playing. In her daydream she was also imagining the cheers from the spectators. If she was popular, in any fashion, it was because of her skill and talent on the court. People paid attention to her then. She didn’t care if they did the rest of the time, but, she must admit, she enjoyed having focus on her when she was in her element. Of course, she couldn’t do as well as she did without her teammates. She might be a standout, in many ways, but, she still depended on them and they her.
The afternoon classes seemed to drag on. Andi tried to pay attention, but, found herself drifting back to basketball. She was normally an attentive student. She was just itching to involve herself again in the sport she loved. Even if she could only play it for fun and not competitively like she did when she was on a team. There was still Ray’s idea of trying out for the boy’s team. It had a certain appeal. Especially if they actually accepted her. What a kick that would be. It didn’t seem likely they would pick her. How many girls, who tried out for the guy’s team, made it? Of course, how many girls even tried out for those teams? It usually was for sports that girl’s typically didn’t even play, such as, football.
After what seemed like an eternity, the final bell of the day rang. She got up from her desk and tried not to seem over eager as she hurried toward the door. She made her way down the hall and out the back. She walked to the court. Zach and Sara and some of their friends were already there. They were playing on coed teams. She thought Sara was really good, as were a few of the other girls. She sat down in the bleachers and watched them. Taking mental notes of their different strategies. After a little while, Sara broke from the game and came over to Andi. “You’re impressive, Sara. I liked what I saw.” Andi informed her. “Thanks. I’m a little rusty. This is about the only opportunity I get to play.” Sara remarked. “You could do it more often, if, you got on the boy’s team.” Andi responded. “I don’t know if that would be a dream come true or more of a nightmare. No doubt, the latter, for the guys.” Sara commented, laughing and shaking her head.
Sara sat down next to Andi and they watched the game for a little while, without saying anything. Then, Andi turned to Sara and mentioned, “My best friend, Ray (Rayanne), from back home, has been pushing me to try out for the boy’s team. She thinks I have a good shot at it. She figured, playing with them, would be better than sitting on the sidelines, as it were.” Sara looked intently at Andi. “There aren’t any rules against girls trying out. What do you want to do?” Sara queried. “I had been dismissing it as a silly notion. After watching you and your friends, though, maybe it’s not so crazy.” Andi stated. “What do my friends and I have to do with your decision?” Sara asked, furrowing her brow. “You, especially, are terrific. If we all try out, they can’t turn us all down.” Andi expressed, with enthusiasm. “Now, that is crazy.” Sara said, with a booming laugh.

She Got Game PT11

“Do you think your friends would consider it crazy?” Andi queried. She felt if she could get even one other girl to agree with her, she might have a chance. She hadn’t made a definite decision about pursuing Ray’s idea. She was hungry to play again and just doing it like Sara wouldn’t be enough for her. She knew it wouldn’t be. In the off season, when that was all she had, she had such cravings. Though, some of her friends had created a league to play in during the off season. It was better, but, still lacking since there weren’t that many teams involved in it and there were no trophies for the winner. The best team did get a pizza party and both the coach and head player got to make a speech.
“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them yourself. Bella might go for it. She has that drive that I sense in you.” Sara told her, looking back toward the game in progress. “Which one is she?” Andi wondered. “See that petite girl? That’s her.” Sara pointed toward someone that Andi didn’t notice at first. She had to stand up and scan around. Then she saw her. She was barely 5′. Everyone towered over her. Even those who weren’t that tall themselves. Her height didn’t hold her back. She was fierce. Andi didn’t think that Bella was trying to make up for being short. She was just really good. Andi wanted to talk with her.
Sara stood up and requested that Andi follow her. They both walked over to the court. “Bella. Could you come here for a moment?” Sara called to her. Bella was absorbed in the game and didn’t appear to want to break from it. After a few minutes, someone else mentioned about stopping to rest, so, that gave Bella the opportunity to come over to Sara and Andi. Even with all of Bella’s exertions, she didn’t seem to be perspiring much. It didn’t take a lot for Andi to become drenched in sweat. She wondered what Bella’s secret was. That’s something she could find out another time. For now she wanted to learn if Bella would be interested in trying out for the boy’s team.
“Bella, this is Andi. Andi, this is Bella.” Sara introduced the two of them. Andi extended her hand and Bella took it in a strong grip. They exchanged pleasantries. “Andi wants to talk with you about basketball. She was on a team for five years. A girl’s team. Where she lived before.” Sara mentioned to Bella. “Lucky you. I got to play for a year. My appetite for it had been whet by playing casual games with my siblings and friends. Then, I actually got on a team and I was in Heaven. Then, like you, we moved and I lost that connection.” Bella informed Andi. “Where did you live before and would you like to have a seat?” Andi asked. Bella agreed and the three of them sat on the bleachers.
“I’ve always lived in this area. We just moved to another part of town. A part whose schools don’t offer many sports for girls. I wanted to continue going to my old school and did for a little while, but, it turned into a hassle for my parent’s, so, I stopped. I was back to playing whenever I could.” Bella said, with some wistfulness. “Bella loves basketball so much, she wrote a paper on it for English.” Sara stated, chuckling. “It was good we could write on, almost, any subject.” Bella responded. “I bet your good with basketball trivia.” Andi commented. “I’d say so. Do you have a question for me?” Bella answered. “It wasn’t about trivia, though, I guess I could throw that in there. I was wondering if you’ve ever considered trying out for the boy’s team? From what I’ve seen, you’re very talented.” Andi expressed, sincerely. “Thanks and yes, but, I don’t know how realistic that idea is.” Bella said, with a sigh.

She Got Game PT12

“I was like that at first, as well. It was actually my friend, Rayanne (Ray), who had originally put the notion out there. I dismissed it, without really thinking it over. From what I’ve seen, you and Sara are really good players. A few others look to have decent abilities too. Watching all of you, has given me more courage and determination. If you don’t want to put yourself on the line, that’s okay, but, I’m going for it.” Andi informed them. “I thought I was serious about it. You’re more motivated than me. I guess I allowed, how I figured they’d respond, to deter me.” Bella declared. “How is that?” Andi inquired. “That they’d laugh me off the court.” Bella admitted.
Andi considered that possibility. It could happen to her. She was confident in what she could do, though and Bella, Sara and the others needed to be also. As she was talking with Sara and Bella, she was beginning to make a decision. Even if none of them would proceed with this, she was going to. She would have to tell Ray she was right. Maybe she could start a precedent. Seeing herself (and perhaps the other girls) in action, the school might actually create a girl’s team again. She wanted something good to come of this, besides just her being able to play competitively once more.
While Andi and Bella were chatting about their passion for basketball, Sara excused herself. She went back down to the court and told the other girls there about Andi. When Sara returned, her friends followed. “Andi, I wanted you to meet some of my friends. I mentioned briefly about your plan to tryout for the boy’s team. They’re intrigued by that.” Sara informed her. She introduced Jessie, Nicole, Trina and Zoey to Andi. They all took a seat around her so she could explain further what her thoughts were regarding becoming part of the boy’s team.
“Actually, if my parents are okay with it, I’d like to invite all of you to our home. It would be more relaxing. Here, we can’t take the time to strategize properly. Plus, I’m sure my mom would be glad to know I’m making friends and would want to meet all of you.” Andi expressed, with enthusiasm. “I could give her a call now and set it up.” She continued. “I don’t know about anyone else, but, Sunday afternoon would be best for me. Maybe we could come to your place then.” Sara said, looking around at the group. The others agreed they’d be free then. “Okay, I’ll talk to her about it when I get home.” Andi responded. “How about we do some basketball trivia then? First question. When was basketball first played? Think about it. No Googling or other searches.” Bella told them, being a little bossy. The rest of the girls laughed and shook their heads.

She Got Game PT13

Before the girls parted, Andi exchanged phone numbers and email addresses with them, so that she could have a way of contacting them if her parents were fine with them visiting on Sunday afternoon. Andi walked home with a lighter step than she’d had so far. This was the first time since she learned they were moving that she actually had a good feeling about this town. She didn’t know what the result would be of her (and possibly the other girls) trying out for the guy’s team. As they say: “you have to be in it, to win it”. Though she’d rather not fail, it would be better to do that than not even try. She didn’t want to be wondering “what if?”.
When she got home, Andi was hoping her mom was there. Her mom had a part time job and normally would be back before Andi, but, since she hadn’t been there long, she put in more hours to show her supervisor how serious she was about her work and the business. Though Andi was glad her mom was proving herself in her position, she needed her to be there. She knew her mom would be here soon, but, she was elated and wanted someone to talk to now. Andi went through the house and found that she was alone. She might as well get to her homework while she waited. It was difficult for her to concentrate. She was thinking of Bella’s question about when the first game was played. She believed it was in the late 1800’s, but, wasn’t quite sure which year. She could look it up, but, Bella requested that they didn’t.
As Andi was attempting to focus on her studies, she heard her mom in the kitchen, unloading groceries. Andi went out to the kitchen. “Need some help, mom?” She offered. “Sure, sweetie. I’d appreciate that.” Her mom responded. As they put things away in the fridge and cupboards, Andi briefly told her mom about her new friends. “That’s great, hon. I’m so glad you’re starting to settle in. I know it wasn’t easy being uprooted from what you’re familiar with. Sometimes life is like that and we either learn to adapt and adjust or we’re left frustrated and upset. Sometimes the new situation can be an improvement or lead us to something better.” Her mom expressed. That might be true, but, it wasn’t easy being away from her friends. The new ones would never replace them, of course.
“Mom, I hope you don’t mind, but, I kind of invited them over and they all said that this Sunday afternoon would work for them. Is it okay with you?” Andi inquired. “I would have appreciated you checking with me and your dad first. In the future, please do so. However, we are free this time, so, it will be okay for them to come over. I could make some tacos.” Her mom answered. “That sounds good and thanks. I’m sorry I didn’t get permission. I was just excited because these girls all play basketball and they might be interested in trying out for the boy’s team, as Ray had suggested.” Andi said, with enthusiasm. “How wonderful for you, sweetie. I hope it works out. I know how important this is to you.” Andi was glad that she had her mom’s support.

She Got Game PT14

“Will dad be okay with his home being invaded by a bunch of teen girls?” Andi queried, with a chuckle. “If they’re anything like you, he shouldn’t mind. Though, he might want to plan something else for that afternoon.” Her mom answered, with a smile. “I don’t know yet how much they’re like me. Other than, they all love to play basketball. That’s the starting point. Maybe we’ll have other things in common. I guess I’ll find out some of that on Sunday. If you don’t need me anymore, I was going to contact them and let them know Sunday afternoon will be fine.” Andi told her as she started to turn to leave. “I think we’re all done here. Thanks for the help, sweetie.” Her mom replied, with appreciation.
Andi went to her room, grabbed her cell out of her purse and flopped onto her bed. She called Sara first. Then, Bella. After that Jessie, Nicole, Trina and Zoey. Sara was home, but, everyone else was out or otherwise engaged, as, they didn’t answer. She left a voice mail and sent them emails as well. She thought about texting them, but, considered that to be overkill. If they were like her, they’d probably be checking their messages regularly. She’d also be seeing them at school the next day. Andi was too excited to do her homework now. She didn’t know what the outcome of her meeting with these girls would be. It was bringing her closer to continuing her dream. When she was at her old school, her coach said she might even qualify for a basketball scholarship. Not likely here, unless, they could establish a girl’s team by next year, before she graduated.
If she couldn’t focus on her homework, she wasn’t sure how she’d manage the next few days at school. She wished they had agreed to meet on Saturday. One less day to wait. She was free, but, apparently, none of the others were. As she was laying there thinking of how their meeting might go, she heard her dad come home. After a few minutes, she heard her mom and dad talking. She was only able to catch a word here and there, but, it sounded like her mom was telling him about Sunday. He seemed agreeable to it. She caught the end of the conversation as he walked down the hall. “This might be a good time to go golfing with Ben. He’s been inviting me for the last month or so and I’ve always had other things going on. Now I have the opportunity to take him up on his offer. I’ll give him a call later.” Her dad finished, as he closed the bathroom door.
Andi smiled. She was happy her dad would be otherwise occupied. He was cool and wouldn’t do anything to embarrass her. Not intentionally, anyway. She’d just rather be alone with her friends. She was wondering how she could get her mom out of the house. Her mom hadn’t expressed that she’d be away. She did say she’d make some tacos. Hopefully, she’d make herself scarce after that. She wasn’t like some mothers who tried to be one of the girls. It’s just that Andi was feeling like having more privacy.
As she was pondering what to do with her mom, her cell rang. It was Sara. “Hello?” “Hey, Andi, it’s Sara. I was talking with Bella. I haven’t had the chance to chat with the others yet, but, she and I thought it might be good for us to play a few games while we’re at your place. It will give you an idea of what we can do. You have the most experience and maybe you can tell us which of us should tryout.” “I don’t know if it should be up to me to decide that, but, I would like to play with you guys.” Andi responded, looking forward even more to Sunday.

She Got Game PT15

If this was like other things Andi had looked forward to, then, the time proceeding that event would seem to drag. She would try to keep herself occupied at home and school. She hadn’t heard back from any of the other girls, so, she had hoped they received her messages. She might have had some of them in her classes, but, since she was new, she hadn’t gotten familiar with most of the other kids. She would have to pay more attention tomorrow. If they weren’t, Sara might round everyone up and they’d sit together in the cafeteria.
She didn’t have to wonder about that, because, as she was walking to school, Sara fell in step with her. “Hope you don’t mind if I join you.” She told her, slowing her strides down. Which Andi appreciated since she was shorter and sometimes found it difficult to keep pace with those taller than her. That was with walking. She did fine on the basketball court. “Sure, it’s nice to have company.” Andi responded. It was, though, sometimes she preferred to be alone with her thoughts. Since today, those were centered on basketball, she was glad to have someone else to talk with. Especially someone who could understand how much basketball meant to her.
“We actually just live a couple of blocks from each other. I realized that when I saw you a little while ago. Otherwise, I would have mentioned, last night, about walking together.” Sara expressed. “It’s okay. It was a nice surprise. I was kind of lost in my own head and there you appeared.” Andi said, with a laugh. “Like a fairy godmother, to grant you a wish. I bet I know what that would be.” Sara answered, grinning broadly. “Oh, really? Are you able to read minds?” Andi replied, peeking at her out of the corner of her eye. “Yes, I’m able to divine all. You were probably thinking about basketball. In some form or another.” Sara said, with authority. “You are good. You must be magic.” Andi returned, pretending to be impressed. “I realized I could be wrong, but, I know it means a lot to you. Besides, that’s one reason I wanted to walk with you.” Sara said, being a little more serious.
Andi kept walking, but, turned her head more toward Sara. Anticipating what she might say. “The other girls and I were chatting online last night. We weren’t trying to exclude you. You’ll be part of it next time. You were the main thing we were talking about.” Sara remarked. Andi wasn’t sure she liked that. She was being silly, no doubt. If they were gossiping about her, Sara wouldn’t say anything. Would she? Andi had never had direct experience with mean girls. She had known of the ones at her old school. Fortunately, when bullying behavior was discovered (physical, emotional, psychological, etc), the teachers, counselors, parents and others dealt with it quickly. Andi came back to the present conversation. She didn’t need to be considering something which was irrelevant. Or, so she hoped.
What Sara said next, put Andi’s concerns to rest. “Don’t worry, we weren’t saying anything bad. In fact, it was all positive. How brave you are, for one.” Sara commented. “Brave? You hardly know me. What could I have said or done that was brave?” Andi queried, curious where that came from. “Because you’re even contemplating trying out for the boy’s team. More than that. You will be doing it.” Sara said, almost with awe. “I don’t know if it’s brave. A big part of why I’ll be able to do it at all is, because, some of you will also be trying out. Or, at least, I have your support.” Andi said, with gratitude. “I’ll try out. The others, we’re not sure which of them will. You definitely will have our encouragement.” Sara told her, squeezing her arm.

She Got Game PT16

As they reached the school, Sara said, “We’ll be able to meet after school, on the courts, if, you’re available. We wanted to get some practice in.” “Sounds good. I’m so anxious about next week’s tryouts, I don’t know if I can sit still. I’d like to skip classes and just play ball.” Andi told her, with nervous excitement. “If you could only be excused from class for that. You’ll just have to make do with your time after school. I need to see the counselor right now, but, I’ll catch you at lunch. I usually eat outside of the library. Unless, you want to go to the cafeteria.” Sara mentioned, as they went through the doors. “The library will be fine. See you at lunch.” Andi responded, as Sara went toward the office and Andi made her way to her homeroom.
The bell hadn’t rung yet, but, she didn’t have anything to do right then. She didn’t know where her new friend’s homerooms were. It would be good to get settled in and review her schedule for the week. What homework and tests she had. None of that mattered to her, compared to gearing up for the tryouts. Adults would always say how important school was. Andi didn’t dispute it with them. Honestly, though, how much of what she was learning was she going to apply in the real world? Of course, they’d say the same about basketball and other sports. At least, with those, it taught her how to work with others and gain confidence. There was more, but, those two things would help her in many situations.
She slid into her seat and pulled out her planner. This week didn’t look too bad. The homework was fairly light and there was just a quiz in history. That was one of her better subjects. She’d probably ace it. She heard the last bell and Ms. Ballantine did roll call and then read over the announcements. She reminded everyone about tryouts this year. “This should be an exciting year. I think we have a chance to make it to the championships. We came so close in recent years. I feel this will be our time.” Ms. Ballantine remarked, with enthusiasm. So, Ms. Ballantine was a basketball fan. Andi wondered if she had played basketball. If so, what did she think about this school not having a team for girls. She was pondering asking her, when, Matt leaned over and said, “The word around is that you’ll be trying out for the boy’s basketball team.”
News traveled fast around here. Schools were hotbeds for secrets, rumors, gossip and the like. This was none of those. It was all true. Though, everyone would know about it next week, she would have preferred to keep it on the down low now. She wasn’t familiar with most of her schoolmates and wasn’t sure how they’d react. She needed people who would be in her corner. This wasn’t the time for detractors. She leaned over to Matt and asked, in a whisper, “Where did you hear that?” “I have my spies.” He answered, in a low tone and chuckle. Andi frowned at him. He saw that she didn’t appreciate his humor. He continued, “I heard it from Bella. Not directly. She was talking to one of our mutual friends and I caught the conversation. I think it’s awesome. We really should have a girl’s team. The administration’s attitude is antiquated.” Andi just nodded in agreement. Ms. Ballantine was looking their way.

She Got Game PT17

Andi and Matt pulled away from each other. They gave each other a look that they’d talk later. She was a little put out that Bella was talking to someone else about the tryouts. It could have been one of the girls she’d already met. That was okay. They were interested and excited about it as well. Ms. Ballantine finished up the announcements and ended with encouraging the boy’s to go out for basketball this year. Andi was curious why she didn’t say anything to the girl’s about it. Since she was so positive about the team’s chances and obviously was a follower of the game, then, in Andi’s mind, it would be natural for her to want girl’s to have a chance. Perhaps Ms. Ballantine wasn’t progressive. That wasn’t anything Andi would concern herself with. She would just focus on her own intentions.
When the bell rang, Ms. Ballantine excused everyone. Andi and Matt stood up at the same time. He asked if he could walk her to her next class. She accepted. “Did I upset you by mentioning the tryouts? I’m not always the most perceptive guy, but, it seemed you weren’t happy to have me say that.” Matt remarked, as they left homeroom. “It threw me. I guess I should have told the other girls not to talk about it with anyone else.” Andi replied, as they walked down the hall. “Is it hush hush? If you don’t mind me asking.” Matt queried. “I guess it’s not really. Everyone will know next week anyway. I just wanted it to wait until then. I wasn’t sure how people would react.” Andi expressed. “And, you didn’t want any negativity to keep you from pursuing it.” Matt offered. “Matt, you’re more astute than you realize.” She said, giving him a big smile. “Well, here’s my next class. Guess I’ll see you later.” She stated, as she opened the door and went in.
Andi daydreamed through her classes until lunch. Sara had mentioned about meeting outside the library. Andi had agreed, but, then realized she didn’t know where it was. As she exited the building, she saw a girl sitting on the steps having her lunch. Andi approached her. “Excuse me, but, where is the library?” The girl looked up, “You must be new here. It’s around the other side. I could show you, if you’d like. I’m Denise, by the way.” “Hi, Denise. I’m Andrea, but, you can call me, Andi. Yes, I am new. Still finding my way around. I’m supposed to meet a friend outside the library. I don’t want to trouble you. You’re in the middle of having your lunch.” Andi commented. “That’s okay. I sometimes eat outside the library. I can change my location. I like to help people find their way around.” Denise said, packing her things up and standing. They began to walk around behind the main building. When they turned the corner, Andi saw the library and there was Sara sitting on the bench outside of it. Apparently she and Denise knew each other as they waved to each other and exchanged, hey’s.

She Got Game PT18

Sara offered them a seat, on either side of her, on the bench. “Hi, Andi. I see you’ve met, Denise.” Was the first thing Sara mentioned. “Yes, it was a good thing I did. I wasn’t sure where the library was. She was sitting on the front steps and I asked her about the library and she said she could show me.” Andi responded. “I’m sure you could have found it on your own. But, I didn’t want you to wander around aimlessly.” Denise said and winked at her. “Thanks, Denise. I appreciate you taking the time to bring me here.” Andi said, with gratitude. “Denise and I have known each other, practically, since birth. We use to live next to each other, until, high school. We still see each other often. We have the most in common. We can tell each other anything. You could say, we’re bff’s.” Sara expressed.
“One thing where we’re not similar with is sports. Sara plays. I don’t. I like watching some of them, especially, baseball.” When Denise said that, it made Andi think of Matt, who was a catcher on the boy’s team here. “What about basketball? Do you enjoy that?” Andi asked, hoping to have another person on her side. “Not as much as Sara. I do like seeing her and our other friends play. I do wish we had a girl’s team here. She’s good and should be able to compete seriously.” Denise answered, sincerely. Andi grinned. Good. Denise would probably be supportive of her as well. “Since you feel that way, Den, then, you might be interested to hear what Andi has in mind.” Sara said, offering her potato chips to the other two. They each took one.
Denise leaned over Sara to get a better look at Andi. “What was your idea? Convincing the administration to create a girl’s basketball team? Sara already attempted that. But, maybe, some fresh blood is what is needed.” Denise commented. “That’s a possibility. For now, I was going to try out for the boy’s team.” Andi remarked. “Wow! Really? That takes some stones. Since you don’t actually have any, it will take extra bravado.” Denise replied, impressed. “Den, come on. Don’t talk like that around our new friend.” Sara said, playfully reprimanding Denise. “It’s okay. I’ve heard and even said worse. Besides, if I get on the boy’s team, there will be all sorts of trash talk. I’ll need to be able to hold my own. In my old school, the girl’s could get pretty rough with their speech.” Andi told her, smiling at the memory of her teammates.
“So, you have gotten to play on a team before. I understand why you would want to try the guy’s team here. It’s not just to change the status quo. You have a real craving for the game.” Denise stated. “Like you wouldn’t believe. I was on a team for five years. I wasn’t as disappointed about moving, as, I was when I learned I wouldn’t be able to play b-ball here. It was my friend Rayanne who encouraged me to go for it here. At first, I was reluctant. Then, I thought, what do I have to lose? With Sara and the others backing me up, I feel that I will have success.” Andi shared. “Add me to the list. This will make a great story. If, I have your permission to write it.” Denise said, with eagerness. Andi looked at her curiously.

She Got Game PT19

Andi, Sara and Denise talked animatedly about the tryouts. “I’ll definitely be there to root you on.” Denise exclaimed. “You’re welcome to watch us practice today after school. We’ll be at the outside courts. You’re also invited to my house on Sunday afternoon. Sara, Bella, Jessie, Nicole, Trina, Zoey and I will be strategizing. Even though you don’t play, you’re positive about what we’re doing and that means a lot.” Andi expressed, with appreciation. “Thanks. I’m glad to know I can offer something. I’ll be your cheerleader. Rah, rah.” Denise said, pretending she was shaking pom poms. The three of them laughed.
As they were wrapped up in their discussion, the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. They gathered up their things and walked back toward the main building. When they were inside, they went their separate ways. Andi to the left, Sara to the right and Denise took the stairs to the second floor. They agreed they would all see each other after school on the courts. Fortunately, for Andi anyway, her afternoon classes seemed to go quicker than the morning ones. Probably because the teachers were asking questions and kept an interesting dialogue going. Even so, Andi would drift to thoughts of basketball. She didn’t believe she was like this at her old school. Of course she thought about it, since, she was on the team. She didn’t have to obsess about it as much, again, because she was on the team.
When she got to the courts, everyone was there, except, Nicole. There were also quite a few people on the bleachers. Andi didn’t want to assume, but, she guessed they were there to watch. She had to admit, she did like an audience. Seeing the group on the bleachers made her walk a little taller. She had pride in herself and what she did. Not in an arrogant way. She didn’t lord her skill over anyone. At least, she didn’t do so intentionally. “There’s our star.” Sara called out to her. Andi smiled modestly. “You haven’t seen me in action. How do you know what I’m capable of?” “I did some research on you and there were several write ups about you. All glowing with praise.” Sara mentioned, as, the other girls gathered around her. Andi was familiar with those articles. She had created a scrapbook for the clippings and pictures.
“Why don’t we take a few practice shots while we wait for Nicole. She had to make up a test. She should be here soon.” Bella said, throwing the ball toward the hoop. She was a little ways outside the top of the key, but, it had a nice arc and went smoothly into the net. That action electrified Andi. Bella passed the ball to her. Andi dribbled it a few times and made her shot. Even though she was closer, it hit the rim and bounced off. Thankfully, no one booed or gave her a look. She was a really good player. As the stories attested to. Even great players had off times. She was a little rusty. She hadn’t played much since moving here. The next few days she had better get to work, if, she was going to shine at the tryouts.

She Got Game PT20

Bella was in front of the stands, asking the spectators, what they knew about basketball. Most of them knew they enjoyed watching it, but didn’t really understand all the ins and outs of it. That’s how Andi was about most other sports. Sometimes, if you were just viewing, you understood the basics and that you liked it, but not usually much more than that. It’s people who played that particular sport who were aware of the rules. Those who played more competitively and certainly professionally. If it was just for fun, sometimes you fudged a little bit with the guidelines. Bella had a lot of trivia pertaining to basketball. Or, so she said. Andi would come to learn just how much knowledge she had.
Bella had received a few answers. That basketball was a team sport, the objective being to score points by shooting the ball into the basket. Usually, there were two teams, on the court, consisting of five players. She inquired how many players were there total. Someone responded with 10. She came back that there must be a minimum of 10 players on a team and a maximum of 15 players. Only 12 players can be active to play a game and 10 players must be active with five starters and five reserves or bench players. This is for professional basketball. In high school, there can be an unlimited number of people on the roster. Though, most of those get cut. She also told them that basketball is one of the world’s most popular and widely viewed sports. Bella thought that if their audience had some background, they might be a little more engaged in the game. Even though, it was more of a rehearsal than anything.
“The other day you had asked what year was basketball started and not to look up the answer. I think it was in the late 1800’s.” Andi mentioned to Bella. “I’ll give you that. The actual year was, 1891. Does anyone know where it began? I will give you a hint, it’s the same name as the town The Simpsons is set in.” Bella queried, turning back to the group. One girl replied, “That’s Springfield. I believe last year that they revealed it was in Oregon. I would have said, Illinois. I don’t know which state it is for basketball, though.” “It’s the state where the pilgrims founded a colony in 1620. Any of you who like history as I do or who paid attention in class, should be able to get this.” Bella expressed, glancing around at the growing crowd. Several people shouted at once, Massachusetts. “You are correct. It was Springfield, MA.” Bella said, with approval.
“Now that we’ve got you warmed up, it’s time for us to do the same. With our physical abilities, not, our mental acuity.” Bella stated and then added, “It does take mental effort as well. Dumb jocks are a myth. You can’t be just brawn. You have to have some brains as well.” There were murmurs in the stands from people who would apparently beg to differ. Nicole had shown up by that point so Bella wasn’t going to argue. The old friends and the new one. Andi gathered around to choose teams. There were only seven of them. It would be good to have at least 10 all together. Sara scanned the other kids to see if there was anyone who could join them.

She Got Game PT21

There weren’t any more girls who could play. However, three boys did volunteer. One of them was a junior like Andi. Also, like her, he had been playing on a team for five years. His name was, Jared. “I heard that you’re the one who is going out for the boy’s team. I wish you luck. I mean that sincerely, not, sarcastically, as some might.” He said that and it sounded genuine to Andi. “I appreciate that, Jared. This seems to have taken on a life of its own. I guess it’s difficult to keep something like this quiet.” She responded. “Why would you? I think it’s fantastic. It might get other girls to follow suit. Some of them may have been considering it themselves and all they needed was a leader to show them the way.” He expressed, adamantly.
So far, the reaction to her trying out for the boy’s team was positive. It was almost as if they were touting her as a heroine. Okay, that might be an overstatement. Still, they seemed to feel she was doing something beneficial. In the grand scheme of things, girls competing with the boys and possibly, getting their own team, wasn’t that important. It wasn’t as if she had come up with a cure for cancer or solved the homeless issue. She did know that being able to work together had its pluses. Even if you were more independent, free spirited and even a loner, at times (she was all three), you would encounter times you had to deal with others and even more than in class, sports enabled people to experience and understand all manners of personalities. Especially those who could get a little full of themselves.
The other two boys, Nolan and Erik, were teasing Andi. They said that maybe they should play a casual game, instead of, something serious. Jared defended her. “I realize you’re probably kidding. If she makes it on the basketball team here, she will be playing with and against guys. She might as well get a taste of it now.” Andi piped up. “I’ve played with guy friends, so, it’s nothing new. The only thing new is learning their style.” “I can guarantee, Erik and Nolan don’t have any style.” Jared commented, eliciting a laugh from Andi and a few of the other girls.
“What did you have in mind?” Andi asked. “There’s the old standby, H-O-R-S-E.” Nolan answered. Andi had played that many times. If you didn’t play and/or weren’t that familiar with basketball, you might not be aware of it. Perhaps, they should have their resident expert, Bella, explain to everyone watching. As if she knew she’d be called upon for this task, Bella stepped forward. “The first player that has possession of the ball will attempt to make a basket. If that player is successful, each player after must also try to make a basket. They will need to do this using the same method, posture and location as the first player. If a player fails to make the specified shot, that player is given one of five penalty letters. Those five letters are H, O, R, S, and E, in that order; the player gets the first letter that he has not already received from a previous round. The round then continues, as each player attempts to make the original shot. When a round is finished, the ball goes to the next player in turn, who is permitted to try a new technique, stance, or physical location to begin a new round. A player is removed once they’ve gotten all five letters.” The game wasn’t as easy as it sounded. “Now that you’ve defined it, I think I want to do something else.” Nolan told Bella, who gave him a slight glare.

She Got Game PT22

After about 20 minutes of H-O-R-S-E, Andi lived up to her hype, being the only player not to have any letters. “Wow, nice job Andi” commented Jared. “You really got a sweet jumper”.  Do that in the tryouts and you’ll be a shoe-in for the basketball team.
“Really?” Andi said.
“Yup,” Sara added. “Coaches love players with good jumpers”
Andi humbly thanked Jared and Sara for their compliments. Nolan, who really wasn’t interested in the game of H-O-R-SE from the onset, suggested that they play a complete game. “Look, we got 10 people total: Sara, Bella, Jessie, Nicole, Trina, Zoey, Jared, Eric, me and Andi. Let’s have a quick co-ed game. What do you say?” This was music to Andi’s ears. Although she retained her composure, she was exhilarated with joy. She’s been waiting to play a real basketball game ever since the day she moved. What was even better about this situation was that she now had the opportunity to play against some guys.
“I suppose that’ll be better than H-O-R-S-E.” Sara added. Besides, Maplewood High’s newest star needs to practice playing with the boys.” Some laughed, but Andi just cracked a slight smile. She actually took Sara’s comment very seriously.  If she was going to succeed in her intent of making the all-male basketball team, she’d have to prove that she can hang with the competition.
They split the teams up into two and began playing much to the audience’s delight. The teams were Sara, Trina, Zoey, Nolan, Nicole, vs. Andi, Bella, Jessie, Jared and Eric. Andi and Bella worked well together. Andi had already spent some time studying Bella’s playing style. Andi made a mental note to keep an eye on Jared’s playing style. Since he was on a team for 5 years, it would be his style that Andi would have to prepare to compete with.  Andi missed two jump shots from the free throw line and a layup during the first half of the game.  Although her team was up by 2 points, it was clear she was rusty. The two teams rested for a while as the crowd cheered on this very entertaining practice run.
On the sidelines, Bella got closer to Andi who looked disappointed by her performance. “Andi, I know you’re better than that. You’re just nervous. Relax. Remember, everyone here supports you. We’re just having a little fun. Have fun.” Affirmed Bella.
Bella was right, Andi thought about this to herself. “Let me compose myself and just have fun. It feels so good to play basketball. And just to think of it – I’ll be trying out for the team in just a week”
The 2nd half of the game was much better for Andi. Bella’s words of encouragement really helped.  Andi, who maneuvered like a pro around the court, ended up scoring 15 points in just under 10 minutes.  What was the most impressive thing to those in attendance was Andi’s ability to post up against the male players. She scored many nicely executed hook shots this way. Several times, Andi was able to make it to the basket getting by Sara who was much taller.
After the game, many people came over to congratulate Andi on her impressive play. She felt like a star. Never before did she think that she would get all of this attention.  If she could pull off this kind of performance at the tryouts, then joining the Maplewood High basketball team was a possible task, indeed.
However, Andi knew that his was just practice. If she was serious about getting on the team, she’ll have to do more than a few nice shots and layups. Firstly, she’d have to work on her defense. Second, she’ll have to work on her footwork if she was to out run the experienced males of Maplewood high. Also, and perhaps most importantly, Andi knew that she’d have to get in shape. She’ll have to eat right and exercise regularly.
The practice round was the catalyst that helped Andi ‘get serious’ about the basketball team.
“I can’t believe that idea from Ray is actually going to be happening….” Andi’s imagination ran wild, thinking of what could come out of her seemingly lofty goal of being the first girl on the all-male basketball team.

She Got Game PT23

“See you later, honey. Have a nice time with your friends” Andi’s Dad went off to play golf with his friend.  Today was the day that Andi had been highly anticipating. Even though she got to play basketball earlier in the week, this was the meeting that Andi was really looking forward to. Not only would she get a good game in with her new friends, but they could also strategize on what they needed to do to get on the school basketball team.
“Thanks Dad. I have a good feeling about all of this.” Andi replied. However, she still hadn’t decided on what she was going to do about her Mom. Even though she didn’t expect her mom to embarrass her, she really wanted the house to herself just for today. Just as she was entertaining these thoughts in her head, she heard a call from her Mom.
“Andi! Can you come into the Kitchen, please?”
“Coming Mom!” Andi replied.
Andi walked into the Kitchen eager to see what her Mom had to say. “Andi, I’ve made some tacos for you and your friends tonight. Since you will have your friends here, and your Dad is playing golf with his friends, I’ve decided that I’m going to have some fun today, too.”
“Really?” answered Andi with great anticipation at hearing what her Mother’s plans were.
“Yes – I hope you don’t mind. My friend Jillian is having a ‘Lady’s day out’ today – so I figure I’d join them. You know, take a break from everything and relax my mind.”
Andi was happy that her Mom would be leaving the house. She also was just as happy to see her Mom wanting to relax. Her Mom was a hard worker and deserved every bit of leisure time that she could get.
“You deserve it, Mom.” replied Andi.
“I’m going to leave in a couple of hours. The tacos will be in the fridge.” Andi’s Mom pointed out the tacos to Andi.
“Thanks Mom. They should start showing up any time now. We were going to play some ball in the back.”
At that point, the doorbell rang and Andi’s first guest had arrived. It was Sara.
“Hi!” said Sara to Andi’s Mom who had answered the door. “I’m Sara!”
“Hi Sara”, her Mom replied.  “Welcome. Come in and make yourself at home”
“Thank you! I actually live just a couple of blocks away”
With that, Sara, Andi and Andi’s Mom had a great conversation. They talked at-length about Andi’s plans to join the basketball team.  Sara assured Andi’s Mom that she was doing the right thing and had the support of everyone in school.
Bella was the next to arrive. Bella complimented Andi and her Mom on their nice house. Nicole was the third guest. Now, Andi’s Mom began to get ready to leave. The rest of the girls arrived in quick succession.  Denise was the final one to arrive.  As Andi’s Mom got ready, the girls went out to the back and proceeded to play basketball. This was their second time playing together and they had a blast. More importantly, this was a great opportunity for Andi to get a closer look at everyone’s playing style, so that she can learn more. Andi was truly a student of the game.
She studied the way players dribbled, how they positioned themselves, the form of their jump shots, the angles of their layups, steal tactics, pick moves, offensive plays and trick plays. Andi was a human sponge when it came to absorbing basketball knowledge.
Andi noticed that while Sara had height, she actually relied more on her speed. Since she had a long reach, Sara often used her quickness to power her way to the boards. Andi made a note of this and mentally decided to add that tactic to her arsenal.. Even though she wasn’t as tall as Sara, she could rely on her speed when going up against some of the taller male players.
Andi also studied Bella’s footwork, too. She noticed that Bella paces herself really well throughout a game.  That’s one reason why she doesn’t perspire as much as others. She conserves her energy really well. This was another tactic that Andi thought she could implement herself, so that she can be an effective player on the Maplewood High team.
“That’s her secret!” Andi thought to herself as she caught a pass from Nicole.
After playing for a few hours, Andi’s Mom came to the back to say good bye for the day.  “Ok Andi, I’m off. Remember, there are tacos in the kitchen. Nice meeting you girls!”
The girls thanked Andi’s mom as she hugged Andi goodbye for the day. “I am pretty hungry myself – do you want to eat?” Andi said to her friends.  Their answers were unanimous. After playing some hard ball, as they always do, they decided to take a rest and get something to eat.
While eating, the girls began their discussion about joining the basketball team.
“So, Andi.” Asked Sara. “Are you ready for this week’s tryouts?”
“I am!” Andi affirmed with confidence.

She Got Game PT24

Andi was 100% confident in her plan to try out for the team. The girls supported her, but didn’t share the same confidence in their own ability to make the team.  “I’d like to do so, too” Bella chimed in. “But like I told you before, Andi – I just don’t know. But one thing is for sure. You have all of our support – and that’s the most important thing right now”

“Bella’s right”, Sara added. “I think that you doing this – and us showing our support – will set a great precedent at the school. Who knows? If you make the team that may make them think again about starting a girl’s team!”

Andi loved the feedback she was getting – but, she needed more.

What are the instructors looking for?
What type of technique do they favor?
What should I concentrate on?
What will be my biggest challenge?
Little did Andi realize that she muttered these thoughts aloud, not realizing that they were not just musings in her head.  The girls laughed but appreciated her ambition. They talked at length about the way that Andi should strategize.  Andi was so determined to make it to the team that she even took notes.
They talked about the things that Andi noticed during their practice game. Bella talked about the importance of endurance and pacing one’s self during a game.
“Remember, you’re going to be running up and down the court straight for long periods of time. You have to regulate your speed.  Run with speed when you have to. Jog when going from one side end of the court to the other. The most important thing is to change up your speeds throughout the game.  That way, you’ll concern your energy and you’ll get open more often.”
Andi was fascinated by the amount of basketball knowledge that Bella had.
Sara also shared some of her knowledge.
“Coach’s love players that can shoot. You may be giving up a lot of size – but if you can shoot, you’re in good shape. Practice can help you overcome any other disadvantages that you may have. If you can shoot, you are instantly a value to the team”
Andi knew that she had an above average jumper. If she can perfect her 3 point shot like she did on her last team, then she knew she would be in good shape.
The girls spent the day talking basketball strategies in and out. They were bouncing ideas off of each other. Andi tried to convince the others to try out, but they, instead wanted to put their full support behind Andi. Several of the girls, including Jessie and Trina said that they’ll have some family members coming to the tryouts to cheer Andi on.
After the girls left, Andi realized that her goal was quickly becoming a reality. No longer was the thought of joining the basketball team just an idea. Now it was really about to happen.
With just a few days to go for the tryouts Andi got back on her strict diet. The tacos that she had with the girls were the last bit of ‘junk’ food that she would have for the rest of the season. Andi smiled at the thought of thinking about it being season time, again. The days up until the tryouts Andi could hardly sleep. She was also unable to concentrate in school as well. But, alas, finally the day came.  Tryout day.

She Got Game PT25

Andi seemed to have a crowd of support behind her. She got a nice applause from the audience just for being on the court. Although Andi was the only girl trying out, she did not feel out of place.  She looked to the stands and had the support of Sara and company, along with her Mom and Dad who wanted to be there for the historic occasion.  Initially, Sara did not know how the rest of the audience would respond, which had her being a bit nervous at times.  But after she saw the crowd firmly supportive of Andi, her concerns were alleviated.
Coach Jake Sampson blew his whistle and welcomed everyone to the tryout session. “Hello everyone and welcome to the 77th annual tryouts for the Maplewood High Boys Basketball team! As you can see, there are just about 100 entrants – we only have spots for 20 more players! It is a very competitive process. If you do not make the team, do not be discouraged! The very fact that you decided to try out for this team shows your tenacity as an athlete and your ambitious qualities as a person!”
Everyone in the audience applauded the Coach’s sentiments. “All entrants will be evaluating on the following skills: Dribbling, post ups, free throws, 3 pointers, lay-ups and/or form.”
Andi waited for her turn as they pulled 5 people at a time for evaluation.  Most others would be impatient at the wait. Andi, however, wanted to spend the time wisely and studied what the other entrants were doing. She was also studying the coach’s response to the various tryouts. After about an hour, Andi’s group was chosen.
When Andi came up, the coach gave her a special greeting. “Ah, Andrea. I heard a lot about you. You’ve really got a lot of courage doing what you’re doing.” Andi thanked the coach and was greeted by a standing ovation from the crowd. It was almost as if the audience was waiting for her tryout session.  Andi was tested on dribbling first. The crowd reacted huge to her great dribbling skills.
Next, she was tested on her ability to shoot from the line. This line of skill fell under the ‘form’ category. Andi missed the first 2 shots, but got the third.
“That’s ok. Let’s see what you can do from the 3 point line” said the coach.
Andi remembered the importance of jumpers. She knew that she had the skill; she just had to compose herself. If there was any part of the process that she could excel in, it was indeed shooting 3 pointers.  She knew that if she could show that she was an exceptional shooter, perhaps the coach would be agreeable to her joining the team, and learning how to contend physically with the male players.
As Andi prepared her shots, she thought about legendary basketball players like Larry Bird and Reggie Miller and how they made a name for themselves by being amazing 3 point shooters. With that, Andi put all of her concentration into these shots. She missed 2 out of 3 of her shots from the three point line.
Andi paused and had thoughts of doubt just for a few moments.
“Am I going to choke?
This is when it matters.
If I can’t perform under pressure now, how am I going to do it in a big game?”
After a bit of worrying, Andi thought about the supporting words of her best friend Ray. She also thought about how amazing it was that she garnered so much support in her new school in such a short period of time.
After taking a deep breath and composing herself, Andi made the next shot in.  The crowd reacted big. After another deep breath, Andi imagined that she was in a game.
She recalled a story that she read in a magazine, in which it said that many of the best basketball players, like Michael Jordan, often rehearsed their successes in their heads before actually doing it on the court. This is what she was now doing.
”Swish!”, Andi exclaimed as she made the next shot in.  Her confidence was at an all-time high. The audience cheered each successive shot.  “Swish!” she shouted again, making the 3rd shot. The crowd applauded her greatly.
The coach gave an approving look and said “Ok – let’s test you a little bit more on form.  3 point shots, but from that side of the paint.” The coach pointed to the left side of the basketball outside the 3 point line.
Andi understood exactly what the coach was looking for. Form was a very important skill in basketball. A truly effective player could make a basketball shot from any multiple positions on the court. Andi knew that this was an important part of the evaluation and made 3 more successful shots in the back of the next. Now she was really showing him something. That would be 5 consecutive basketball shots.
The Coach looked like he was having fun. However, it was clear that Andi was the one having the real fun.
“What next, Coach?” she asked, almost challenging him.
“Well – if you’ve got as good a shot as I think you do – let’s see what you can do from over there”
The coach pointed to an area just inside the 3point line 45 degrees from the basketball. It was an awkward shot. Only skilled shooters are able to make this shot regularly. After some deliberation in the way her footing was positioned, Andi shot and made it once again. She received another strong reaction from the audience.  Andi followed up with another shot, making it in again. That was now 6 consecutive shots in.  Even the coach was applauding.
The reaction that Andi was getting from the crowd was almost as rabid as an actual game.  It was so much that she actually had to stop to acknowledge the crowd. The Coach looked on in amazement. He looked like he was thinking.
“Ya know what…with a jumper like that – I think I’ve seen enough.
You’re on the team”