This is me in my high school basketball jersey. I played for the St. Francis Xavier Tigers in Mississauga. Wearing the blue and gold made me proud. As much as I loved basketball back then, I only made my high school team three out of the five years I was there (I didn’t fail a year, we had an extra year for OAC). I was good but many others were better and I mean, dunking-in-a-game kind of better. I was never the most skilled on the team and I was always the smallest (I mean, look at those arms!). I’m pretty sure I made the team based on pure effort. I was one of the hardest workers on the team and part of my role was to motivate our starters because if the smallest and least skilled player was out-hustling you, you clearly had room to improve.
I remember one practice when our coach Mr. Yawney was trying to toughen up our centre. The drill was this: one-on-one, our 6’6 mad-of-pure-muscle centre on offense versus 5’8″ scrawny me on defense. The drill would end when our centre dunked the ball on me. And there were no fouls. The whistle went and I shoved, harassed and bodied him around as best as I could. Eventually, he pushed me out of the way and dunked it but I held my ground longer than everyone would have imagined. It was the only way it could end. And our centre was better for it. And consequently, our team was better for it.
That practice was 16 years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I carry memories like these around with me. These memories endure in my mind as a building block of who I am but they also live on in my body.
You might notice that I have a chipped bottom tooth. It shattered when I caught an elbow during a high school game against Westwood. I spat out shards of tooth and then sank two free throws. I scored 12 points that game, the best high school game I ever had. Coach gave me the game ball. You might also notice that my little finger on my right hand is messed up. It was dislocated during a game against Cawthra. I popped it back into place and hit two free throws. While those two events weren’t great for me physically, they gave me grit. It’s not what’s done to you, it’s how you respond.
It’s throwback Thursday (#tbt), which is why I’m in a reflective state. I’m also thinking about our show MONDAY NIGHTS. Today, we have a group of students seeing the show as a test audience, tomorrow we start previews and on Monday, we officially open. We’re finally here after six years of development. I’m proud of what we’ve created. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I don’t think you have either. So please come join us. I think you’ll like it.
Hope to see you on the court very soon.
Byron (Team Red)