My relationship with Basketball has been one of the longest and most significant relationships of my life. It started when I was just nine years old. My father was a total jock and he coached the majority of my teams. When he wasn't able to coach because my French school division did not allow the non-French to to coach the school athletic teams, he was in the stands for every game. He would keep track of the game's stats as well as key plays, that we discussed over slur-pees on the drive home. When my time as a player was done, I followed in his footsteps and coached a 14 - 17 year old girls team. He taught me the skills to be a good coach, and our team won two back-to-back Championship titles in the WMBA's spring league. He was again in the stands every game.
Five years ago my father died of a rare and fast-acting Cancer. My relationship with the sport inevitably changed. At first, I simply neglected it; busying myself with travel, friends, and life in general. I tried to ignore that that part of me had ever existed. I did some incredible things and saw some breathtaking places, but no matter how faraway I got from the Canadian prairie, Basketball somehow managed to find me.
In Southern Bolivia, just outside of the worlds' largest salt-flat desert, our travel group stayed in a hotel made entirely of salt, aseemingly unlikely place for a basketball court. But just steps behind our hotel, in the middle of nowhere, there it was. It had found me. I couldn't believe my eyes, my heart soard when I proceeded to beat two young Australian men at a game of around the world. It was a proud moment, I could feel my dad smiling down on me.
About a week ago, I faced my lost love at Red River College's Notre Dame campus. I covered the Rebel Women's basketball game for the school news paper, the Projector. Upon entering the gym, the sound of the squeeking shoes on the court, the bouncing leather balls, I realized that this was going to be hard. I couldn't help but notice the fathers sitting next to me in the stands cheering on their daughters. I
didn't realize that being around it would hurt so much.
My heart ached for the days of boxing-out under the boards and sinking free-throws, and for my proud father cheering me on from the bench.
The story I wrote for the Projector was published today, in the full color feature section. The photo I took from the men's game made the cover of the paper.
My proud father is smiling down on me today from the bench once again.
-2oz Jack Doniels
-In a rock glass full of ice, pour in Tom's two favorite things over ice. Stir and enjoy!