Back in 3rd grade one of my best friends was a girl named Vicky Price. One weekend, she and her family were attending the Gino’s Super Shooters contest, and she asked me to come along. Gino’s was a chain of hamburger & chicken joints that I rarely ate at. I was strictly a McDonlad’s girl back then, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to go with my friend.

The problem was, the Super Shooters contest involved basketball. Yes, the object of this contest was to find the boy and girl who could sink the most shots in the basket. This was not my forte. I’d was more likely to win Miss America at 9 than to think I’d be able to sink more than one basket.

Vicky and her sister were basketball whizzes. They had mastered that easy overhand toss of the ball that usually resulted in a swish. I shot more like Felix Unger. I still can’t shoot a basketball properly – on the rare occasions we play around the world in our driveway my husband breaks my chops. But I didn’t care – it was a wet, cold, crappy Saturday and I had nothing better to do.

The contest was in somewhere in Jersey I’d never been to – someplace near Newark I think, in a high school gym. There were tons of kids there, but I wasn’t really nervous. I knew I was going to bomb which sort of took the edge off. But Vicky was nervous. When it was her turn to take the court she didn’t sink a single basket. I felt really bad for her; had we been at wood park she’d have gone 10 for 10.

Then it was my turn. With my mousy brown hair in a pony tail, clad in pink slacks and a t-shirt, I took the court. I knew there was no way I was ever going to reach the net shooting overhand, so I reverted to my standard method of basketball sink-ology. I grabbed the ball with both hands, swung it between my knees and let ‘er fly.

Yes, there was laughter. There were 6 year olds that shot overhand, and here I was almost 10 and shooting like an old lady. But you know what? They were going in the net. Perhaps because I wasn’t the least bit nervous, because I had no expectations of doing anything more than embarrassing myself, I was able to find that comfortable groove that allows your mind and body to connect harmoniously.

I won’t sit here and tell you that I sunk all 10. But I sunk enough to win myself a t-shirt, and I was as thrilled as could be at that. Poor Vicky had gone there with dreams of qualifying for the semi-finals, and she was coming home empty handed. I felt sort of guilty about that.

And here I am (at right), clad in that very t-shirt and my pink slacks. I don’t know why I look so absolutely miserable, but whatever the reason my sister Judy was in full agreement. Maybe it’s the couch. It makes me sad to look at it 37 years later.

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