Slap, Thwap, Slap, Thwap…Round Ball
By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to purchase a Frito Pie
I have done the soccer thing and the t-ball thing but none of those prepared me for Little Dribblers. No, that does not refer to the toddlers in the church nursery or the Senior Citizen Soup Supper. I'm talking about pint sized basketball. Competitive pint sized basketball. Small school competitive pint sized basketball.
If you have ever seen the movie "The Hoosiers", add about a hundred people to the town, chop the players down to about 42 inches in height, put them in elementary school, throw in a few girls on the kindergarten team and you have Little Dribbler Basketball. Since my five-year-old had never seen a basketball game, I thought it wise to take him to one before his game the next day.
It has been about fifty years since I attended a high school basketball game so I expected some changes, and there were a few. There was no longer a key hole painted on the gym floor where you lined up for free throws. They didn't have a jump ball after a tie ball. The uniforms were baggy and down to their knees and there were no Frito Pies at the concession stand. But everything else was as I had remembered.
The parking lot, when we arrived, was packed. This was the first home game. Everybody was there. I had forgotten the level of hometown support there is in a small school. When we finally got to the gym, a retired teacher friend of mine was there selling tickets, supporting the team, chatting with all the kids and the kids of the kids she had taught.
When we entered the gym I heard that familiar slap thwap slap thwap, screach, screach. Someone was dribbling the ball down the court. No artificial, manmade floor can compare to the sound of a basketball hitting that super polished hardwood floor or basketball shoes screeching across it. It is the sound of the game. As I scanned the crowded stands for a place to sit, I noticed every age was represented there from babies all the way up to great-grandparents. It wasn't just the parents of the kids who were playing that I saw. The community had come to see their team play. The other half of the stands were full of the visiting team's fans, again a great mixture of ages. What was that line in "Hoosiers"? Last one out of town, turn out the lights!
At half time the nine-year-old asked "Is there a restaurant here?" "Sort of", I said, "it's called a concession stand". "Do they have pizza?" the five-year-old wanted to know. "They have basketball food" and with that I was off to the concession stand. The high school students were bustling around taking money and shouting orders back to the parents who were piling chips with gooey cheese and jalapenos for nachos, dipping corny dogs out of the fryer, flipping burgers, and fishing giant dill pickles out of gallon jars. The smells hadn't changed in fifty years.
My field trip to show the five-year-old a live high school game had taken me full circle to my high school basketball days. The only thing missing was the Frito Pie.