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“Tommy! Are you studying for your math test tomorrow?” screamed my mother.
“Yes, mom!” I yelled back, clicking onto the unfinished study guide.
Even when I was a child, I never cared for math. I was always more interested in sports. All my life, I’ve tried to think of different ways I could persuade my parents into allowing me to join sports teams. Yet, they never seemed to give up and constantly provided me with math tutors so that I could eventually be as brilliant as them. Both of my parents are Calculus professors at the University down the street but pursuing mathematics isn’t my dream, basketball is. I’ve always wished that maybe one day my parents would understand the love I have for basketball, it’s the only thing I'm committed to.
I’ve spent so many days working out alone at the gym to boost my strength and spent countless nights fighting my sleep to watch basketball videos. I would analyze each player’s every move so that I could practice the next time I was on the court. I aspire to be as great as the basketball players in the videos and hope that one day I would have my own video up that would inspire others.
* * *
As I walked out the door for school, I reminded my mother that I had to stay after school with my math teacher today. A smile stretched across her face as the words flowed out of my mouth. I hate lying to her but it’s the only way I can do what I love.
Once I reached the end our street, I picked up my basketball that I hide in an abandoned driveway and continued to walk to school.
“Hey bro, you ready for the game today?” shouted Sean, one of my teammates, from across the street.
“You know I’m always ready,” I replied back smirking.
“This is our last year bro, you know we have to go all out,” Sean said pointing in my direction.
Sean is one of the top players on the team and is also the coach’s son. Sean and I have been in school together since middle school and never really spoke to each other until last summer. Right after junior year, he invited me over the summer to play basketball on their court. I couldn’t say no to that. I mean he is the coach’s son and it gave me the opportunity to get better.
As I began to walk the rest of the way to school, I found myself looking down at my basketball and saying to myself: This has always been your passion and although I know that there are better players on the team, I know you have the courage to do all that you can to get to where you want to be.
* * *
Walking into class, butterflies started to form in my stomach. I knew I wasn’t gonna get a good grade on this test and I would disappoint my mom yet again. But what could I expect, I didn’t even finish the study guide, let alone know what we were learning. So I made my way to my seat and slouched in my chair.
As I sat in my seat, I could feel eyes looking at me. I didn’t want to turn my head because I was afraid what I might see. What if someone was judging me? I mean I am Asian, of course they would think that I know the answers as if it was the back of my hand. Sadly, I don’t.
Once the test was handed to me, I began to slouch even more in my chair. I had to try and hide the fact that my face was beginning to turn red. I felt embarrassed, like everyone one in the class expected me to get the best grade in the class but they thought wrong. I knew absolutely nothing and I knew that this would be another disappointing trend that my mother wished could end but I can’t understand math. So I slowly wrote my name at the top of the paper, flipped the test over, slid it to the side, and laid my head down on the desk. All I could think about was the game I had in a few hours. I needed to prove my point this year, and although I wouldn’t be able to do my best on this test; I knew that I would do my best on the court.
* * *
Game after game, I could see progress in myself. I was no longer an average player, I was making more points than ever. At the beginning of the season I was only making about 15 points and now my teammates are passing the ball to me most of the time. I’ve gained respect on the basketball team and was looked at as one of the best players on the team. I mean even the girls were feeling me. I didn’t know all this was gonna come with all the hard work I put into this season.
I was spending more and more time at Sean’s house, I could tell that he was beginning to have more trouble guarding me. I was starting to become a threat and I noticed that coach realized that when he began to spend time with us outside making pointers from the bench. I was proud of myself and although my parents didn’t have the chance to see me in my prime, I know that one day there would be an everlasting smile that stretches across their face. I want to make them happy, but most importantly I want them to understand that you don’t have to be a genius to make a name for yourself.