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Cautiously, I reached into the brown moving box. Through the immense clutter I yanked out a trophy. Thoroughly I slid my finger across the rugged leather bobble head sitting atop the silver and gold basketball player as dust filled the grooves of my finger. My senses tingled and brought me into a deep thought. Subconsciously a grin appeared across my face.
Wheezing, and completely out of breathe, I managed to mumble out these words “we got this” as I clapped my hands and broke the huddle. These words trickled off my tongue so gentle that I could barely hear myself; I said it mainly for my satisfaction and focus.
The freshly paved blacktop gave off a steamy heat. I looked up and saw a mirage of fire that resembled the rays of the blazing sun. My sweat appeared to evaporate quicker than my sluggish body could manufacture it.
The rugged leather ball thunderously pounded back and forth from the streets of Neenah to my dried out finger tips. Game point, 14-14 and the game was in my hands. I dribbled down the court calmly with a swagger to the rhythm of the ball as if it were no big deal. The pressure of the defense flocked to me like starving cannibals. Natural instinct had rushed through me; I glanced from side to side a saw an open lane to the hoop. The ball fell in so softly swooshing through the net. Triumphantly, I hoisted up the bobble head trophy with a whopping grin across my face.
Again, I rummaged through the clutter of the brown box. I snatched up a picture frame and dusted it off with the prickly rag. The glistening reflection off the shiny glass shone right into my eye.
The Saturday night lights illuminated the turf field. An unreal feeling came over me, as adrenaline blasted through my bloodstream. After the play call, we broke the huddle with the clap of our hands. Slowly I made my way behind the center. I took a moment to capture in the moment and felt the brisk breeze swooshing through my helmet. After the snap, I quickly handed the ball to my speedy half back.
“Touchdown Eagles” over the loud speaker as fans cheered to the tops of their lungs. The comeback was in full swing as the momentum grew and grew. I sat focused and readily on the sideline waiting for the defense to get the ball back. Time was not in our favor, so powerlessly I watched it slowly tick away. Down by two scores I led the offense back onto the field. Slowly but surely we were trucking down the field. Third down on the opposing forty yard line; we needed a pass to give us the first down and keep this drive going.
“Hut” I dropped back with my head on a swivel, everything seemed in slow motion as I scanned through the defense. The yellow jerseys started to swarm into my vision like irate bees; I took one last look at my receiver and heaved up the ball. I watched the lofty pass sail slowly through the clear nights sky. After the ball peaked at its maximum height, it abruptly fell into the reached out arms of the receiver for six points. The grueling but successful drive sparked a fire. We would not be denied. I angled the football carefully on the tee to precision, and within seconds after the lightly tapped onside kick, the game had been ripped out right underneath my vulnerable feet. Unable to recover the onside kick, we could not pull through in the final minutes.
I held my head as I accepted my second place trophy along with my teammates. Parents captured a team picture. The disappointing loss hadn’t stopped us from enjoying the moment underneath the Friday night lights..
“Taylor” my dad heaved open the freshly varnished door.
“I’ve bee calling you” the stare he shot down at me revealed his irritation at the moment. His probing gaze downwards brought a distinct smile to his face. Unhurriedly he plopped down onto the carpet right next to me at the edge of my king sized bed. Michael Jordan posters eye balled our every move. The spring air submerged into my room through the open windows.
“Remember this one?” as I hoisted the trophy up to my father anticipating his memory was as vivid as mine.
“You bet I do” looking through the trophies, reassuring me he hadn’t forgot.
“How bout this one he said” the questioning look across his face declared his concern of my memory. My nod brought a satisfied expression across his face.
Poking around through the bottom of the box I pulled out a faded baseball. The writing was covered with dried mud and grass stains making it a challenge to read the writing on it. Squinting through my brown beady eyes, I carefully made out the words “first” and “run”. Putting two and two together I realized I had uncovered my first homerun ball. There in tiny print, about seven years ago I had signed my name.
My long legs stretched out of the batters box, cutting sharply across first base my metal cleats dug in deeply and propelled me to second base. Looking up, the baseball had sailed far over the centerfield fence bringing my pace to a slow jog around the bases. I crossed home plate with a smile stretched all the way around my head and was congratulated by the entire team.
The perfect season, last second wins, last second losses, blowouts and memories.