Prime Time This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   As I ran onto the court, the roar of the crowd made my ears ring. I eyed the stands and met the radiant glare of the adoring fans. Among the faces I spotted a few of my friends, several teachers, my parents, and a few pretty girls. I then turned my eyes to the eagle: the bold, fierce, and intimidating eagle that was painted on center court. With its outstretched wings and its impaling claws, it represented who I am and who I aspire to be. Its beak was gaping open as if to proclaim its independence, its pride, its honor.

My admiration of the eagle was stolen by the opposing team as they warmed up at the opposite basket. They were tall with shaved heads and hardly missed a shot. At first I felt threatened, even scared, by them, but I quickly realized that they did not matter. Win or lose, this was prime time: Division One state basketball at its finest. The crowd, the uniforms, the tradition, the eagle: this was it!

After the starting line-ups were announced, the game began. The teams traded baskets as I sat on the bench, watching eagerly and waiting patiently. My shoulder rubbed up against the coach's as he bellowed instructions, ignoring me. Then a fast break and a pass for the slam dunk. I glanced behind me to witness the crowd as they leaped to their feet and voiced their approval and satisfaction, while I continued to watch and to wait.

As the game grew, old thoughts began to race through my mind: thoughts of my hard work, my determination, my sacrifices. Thoughts of how I had soaked the court with my sweat in yesterday's practice. I grew anxious and impatient. At that moment the coach turned and scanned the bench. I quickly sat up straight and put on my serious game face, but it did not matter. He called the kid next to me, leaving me to suffer, to endure, to wait.

I realized that little time remained in the game, but I still held out hope. After all, why shouldn't the coach put me in? I had run the same drills and made the same shots as everyone else, so why shouldn't I play? Not only did I want to win just as much as any other kid on the team, I wanted to be a champion; a state champion. If Coach would only put me in, I know I could make a difference. All I wanted was a chance,a chance to prove to everyone that I can play at this level.Was that too much to ask? If he put me in, I could ...


The final buzzer had sounded. The game had ended and reality slapped me in the face. I had not played.

As I was shaking hands with the other team, I realized that the experience of not playing in the game resembled my life. I work hard; I make sacrifices; and I strive to be the best that I can possibly be, but I always seem to fall short. I struggle through long days and sleepless nights and seem to accomplish nothing. My life is a series of disappointments, one after another, and it is my fault. I set myself up. I dare to set high goals and to dream of walking on the clouds, only to have reality put me back in my place. I must not go on like this. I will not continue to set myself up. From now on there will be no more big dreams, no more lofty goals to fulfill, no more hope. I am safe.

If I am now happy and this is the way my life is to be run, then why am I anxious to go to basketball practice tomorrow? n

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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bobby jo said...
Mar. 15, 2011 at 10:23 am
you had me interested throughout the whole story
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