Monday, October 17, 2011

Canton Charge Tryouts

The story of my tryout did not begin on Saturday, October 15th 2011 on my 30th birthday, but long ago when my favorite sport became my passion.  Basketball is a game I started playing around four or five years old.  I took every opportunity available to pick up a ball and shoot at anything even resembling a hoop.  Including setting up a mini hoop in the living room, moving furniture and shooting with socks covered with Duct tape. At my grandparents house there was not a mini hoop readily available, so we would tape a shoe box to a skylight.  It was in a narrow hallway barely wide enough to fit two people standing side by side, but is was all we needed to get our basketball fix.  Nate, being six years older, was always taller and stronger, but I held my own.

My passion for the game grew as I developed an affinity for the Cleveland Cavaliers as my favorite Cleveland sports team.  Mark Price was the smoothest point guard I had ever watched.  Running the offense seamlessly and executing the pick and roll with Brad Daugherty to perfection.  It was unstoppable.  He could shoot from anywhere on the floor and with hands in his face.  He had a deadly release and always found a way to get his running one-hander offer in traffic amongst the trees down in the paint.  This guy was a genius.  Go back and watch some tape of his jumper.  No matter where he was on the floor he found a way to square his shoulders to the basket as he released.  This was the first lesson I learned about shooting a jump shot.  My dad would say "Watch him when he shoots.  You square your shoulders like that and you will always have a chance to make the shot."

Anyway basketball became my first true love.  I was a standout in the Perkins rec league in West Akron.  Every time I stepped on the floor my obsession with the game heightened.  However, on one faithful day after I had moved to Bath I stepped into the gym at Revere middle school for my 8th grade tryout.  Coach Burnett was the 8th grade coach.  He proceeded to cut me from the team because I wasn't tall enough.  There were literally guys on the team that could barely make a layout, and I played tremendous throughout the entire week of tryouts.  Even though I was one of the best two or three players on that court, he decided my height just wasn't up to his standards and he sent me packing. Probably should have crushed me, but as it was, the moment I read the sheet with the final roster, and didn't see my name was also the exact moment I decided I would play college basketball.  I was furious and more motivated then I had ever been in my life.

And so I played four years at Revere High School.  It ended my senior year against Warrensville Heights in the state playoffs.  Jubie Johnson and company were one of the top ranked teams and eventual State champs.  I hit a three with 10 seconds left to tie a game that we were expected to be blow out of.  Jubie air balled a three with two seconds left, or so I thought.  I went to grab the ball and it glanced off the rim just over my hands, and one of their guys flipped it in at the buzzer. Although I had tied up Jubie early in the possession and  it should have been called a jump ball with us getting possession.  Anyway I collapsed where I stood and cried my way into the locker room for about 20 minutes.  I knew it wasn't over.  I went on to play an unassuming three years at Heidelberg University.  Two different head coaches and two very different philosophies, I never really got my feet on the ground.  After college my game blossomed as my body finished filling in and I gained a better understanding of the complexities of the game.  I continued to play after college and my skills progressed to a point where I was actually a far better player than I had ever been in college or high school.  I've continued to play 2-3 times a week for the last eight years, along with developing a fairly serious weight lifting program. 

Then the announcement was made. Dan Gilbert had purchased a D-League team.  A developmental professional basketball team that would serve as the direct feeder for the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers.  Open tryouts would be announced shortly after. I knew immediately that I would be there.  I took my training up a couple notches now knowing exactly what I was training for.  Plyo-metrics, weights, late night and early morning shooting sessions.  5 on 5 with the morning hoops crew.  I did everything I thought I needed to do to be ready...

The day arrived.  Saturday, October 15th.  My 30th birthday.  I woke up at 5am having packed all my stuff for the weekend the night before.  I got in the car and hopped on I-77 South heading towards Canton-Mckinley Memorial Gymnasium.  One of the greatest challenges and most fulfilling experiences of my life would begin in just two hours........

to be continued.......

jab

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

AAHHRGG!!! I hate To be continued!! WHAT!!! When!!! I can't take the suspense!!

McBone said...

Held your own? I'm sure you did against those dudes at the tryout, but the skylight hoop at grandma's? Check your memory.

nwb