Back in 10th grade I decided to jump to the Varsity basketball team a full year earlier than most do. Back then I spent nearly everyday at my local YMCA, the driveway outside my house and recess playing basketball. I took an ungodly number of midrange jumpers and threes from 2 feet beyond the arch to hone my shot. I was (or at least believed I was) a legitimate threat from the outside. At the time the jump to Varsity was a big deal for me, a chance to show that I belonged in a higher level, and as it turns out I did. In my first game I put up 15 points, and while the three I drained to tie the game at the buzzer in the 4th quarter didn’t count because of a bogus traveling call, I knew I was in the right level.
My level jumping however stopped right out of high school, and as most kids who captain their high school basketball team do, I quickly learned just how good I really was. So I started playing rec league ball in what I thought was a decently level. Players were bigger, older and as competitive as I remembered in high school. I was playing in “A” division, which didn’t really mean much because the league consisted of former high school players, not college player (not a lot of dunking in that league to say the least). I was in the upper echelon of players who though they were better than they were because they took their high school team seriously than most.
I continued in this league for the better part of 8 years at which point I called it quits. I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Fast-forward 4 years and I had basically stopped playing basketball altogether. I did however start to sub for my brother’s rec team on a weekly basis. It was nice to be out there, back in “A” division, and yet something had changed. I was now 33 years old and the out of high school 19 year olds were breaking my ankles and my shot wasn’t going down the way it used to. Thankfully my court sense was still there and knew how to get the right people the ball at the right time, but still, it bothered me that my shot has betrayed me. What had happened? Well, like most former high school athletes, I have this tendency to remember how good I once was and in turn believed I will always be as talented as I was at my athletic peak, and at a certain point in time this is simply no longer the case. So when I decided to join my friends rec team for the first time in 4 years, I was saddened to see I would be playing in “C” division. I quick look at the competition however put a smile on my face. As it turns out most of the other players I used to play with in “A” were now playing at the same level as myself, and it’s the level I should be in.
The truth is, I don’t shoot around for fun anymore and because of that my shot is simply not and is never going to be what it once was. As we get older, we stop practicing and muscle memory fades. I’m quickly realizing that joining this league is more about being on a team again and remembering how much fun it was to run up and down the court and play a game I used to love and be pretty good at. So to all you rec league players out there, just remember that the sooner you stop clinging to how good you used to be and accept how good you actual are now, the better off and more sane you’ll be.