Try, Try Again This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Scrawny, average, and undisciplined, I was the underdog of the boys' basketball tryouts in seventh grade. Making the team was very important to me, but I had become accustomed to no-cut teams where everybody who tried out got a spot. Although I was extremely nervous, I truly thought I would make the team. But I went in overly optimistic, and quickly faced a cruel reality check.

The buzzer echoed through the gymnasium, signaling the start. I huffed and puffed up and down the court like an old man on his last legs; clearly, I was out of shape and having trouble keeping up. When it hit me that this was only the first day, and that there was a second to follow, I ­realized I would have to step it up in order to gain a spot on the team.

Unfortunately, day two went exactly like day one: I missed shots, passed badly, and fumbled like an out-of-breath fool. Hoping the coach was not watching all my bad moves, I had trouble keeping a positive attitude. Luckily, the results would be posted shortly and I would know the truth.

Thirty minutes later, my friends and I paced up and down the hall. Finally, Coach – who at five-foot-four usually seemed small, now appeared to be a giant – posted the lists of the Boys A and B Teams. Everybody quickly dashed to catch a glimpse of the chosen few.

After scanning the list once, twice, three times, my name was nowhere. Although I had predicted the devastation that had now settled on me, with my head sagging, I slowly walked to the car. This experience definitely had not gone as I planned.

On the way home, I released my frustration and anger. “I can't believe I didn't make the team,” I yelled. “How could that gigantic lard bucket who couldn't keep up with a turtle make the team? And spaz boy, who just stands around flapping his arms, is a better choice than me? Then there's the guy who throws temper tantrums at any minute without reason and-”

“Adam!” my mom exclaimed, ­cutting me off. “Why don't you just stop and realize that maybe you need a little more practice?”

Although I did not want to believe her, I knew it was true. Failing to make the team was nobody's fault but mine. Right then and there, in the middle of my anger, I realized I had to get my act together. Daily practice would be a priority now, along with anything else that would get me ready for the team the following year. I was determined, and nothing was going to get in my way.

I threw myself into as many basketball opportunities as I could find. The district league gave me the chance to play and practice competitively, and I took lessons to sharpen my skills. Playing in the league was bittersweet, because the teams consisted mainly of sixth-graders and a few seventh-graders who had failed to make their school teams. Although I needed the practice, I was embarrassed to be matched up against younger players.

When summer rolled around, I threw myself into every basketball camp available. Through camp after camp, my abilities grew, and I knew I was finally in the shape necessary for tryouts in the fall. When it became a struggle to muster up the energy to run down the basketball court, my determination fueled my discipline, bringing me to the point I knew I could reach.

A bit taller, better built, and much more confident, I strolled into the eighth-grade basketball tryouts. The drills the coach had us start with were very similar to those I had done at summer camp. I was smooth, swift and strong, completing each task without trouble. Knowing I was performing well motivated me more; this tryout could not have been more different from last year's, and it shocked me to think how far I had come in just 12 months. Although I was careful not to be overly confident, I felt a calm sense of certainty that my goal would be achieved.

The next day it was that moment again: I was standing waiting for the results that would determine my final chance to play basketball in middle school. When Coach appeared, he did not seem quite as big or threatening as the year before. It hit me again how much I had changed. With more confidence, I looked at everything from a more mature perspective.

As everyone crowded around the lists, I played it cool and waited for my chance to scan the names. With my index finger, I slowly moved down the list. Not only had I made it, but my name was the very first, which gave me a true sense of self-satisfaction.

Failing to make the basketball team in seventh grade taught me more than if I had succeeded. Although my tryout situations were tough, I never considered quitting because of my love for the sport. The old saying, “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again” rang true. Basketball is still an important part of who I am, but the lessons I learned about hard work and perseverance go beyond sports into all areas of my life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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auntie said...
Mar. 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I got goosebumps reading your article.  It was well written and I felt I was there going through your growth.  I tell my students this often, but everyone has to find out for themselves what they are capable of and how persistance can payoff.  Great job nephew.

Love Auntie

 
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