A Run And A Walk Up and Down The Court

The pandemic caused an enormous number of changes in our world. We discovered masks, and then masks with designs and short, witty sayings. Curbside became a thing that was offered at more places than Sonic. Now I can go put a book on hold, go to the public library, and pick it up curbside. Students didn’t even have to change out of their pajamas to attend school that had now been brought right into their bedroom, family room, or wherever they plopped their laptop down in the house. Teachers could teach from their own kitchen and have the family cat cuddle up next to the screen.

Covid made us do some things and kept us from doing others, like being with family. For me, it caused me to start doing more long walks, where I discovered these things called podcasts. I got to know Andy Stanley and, on really long walks, T. D. Jakes. I listened to my friend, Chuck Moore, give a few sermons from his office at First Baptist Church of Champaign/Savoy and discovered new songs by J. J. Heller and Crowder.

But the pandemic also caused me to put the brakes on playing pickup basketball games at the YMCA at 6:00 in the morning. The Y is located less than a mile from our house, but Covid became the impenetrable defense that stopped any shot attempt. Before it swept in, we’d have 20 people showing up to play that early in the morning. And then there was no one!

A few months ago, the restrictions were lifted and the hoop action began again, but I had gotten out of the habit. On most mornings I was teaching and unavailable, and if I wasn’t teaching I was sitting on my stool at Starbucks (“Last stool on the right, facing out toward Pike’s Peak”).

Until Friday! One of the guys who I used to play with had come into Starbucks a couple of weeks ago and had urged me come back…so I did.

The court seems to have gotten longer since I was there last. Two or three times up-and-down the court had me huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf. I’m sure that at least one of the younger generation I was playing with looked around to find where the nearest AED machine was located.

However, after the first few old-man sprints, I reconnected with the cardio-base that I had built up in all the years of long-distance running. It became easier, although I wasn’t winning any speed contests getting from one end of the court to the other.

In all my years of coaching basketball, I’ve integrated the idea of teamwork into how I play. Moving without the ball, setting screens, getting to open space, knowing where my teammates are and knowing when to help on defense are now all embedded in how I play. So when I finally took my first shot and swished it, the big guy on my team yelled “I love you!” When I took my second shot, a wide-open three-pointer, and swished it, he yelled, “I really love you!” When I set a screen down-low that sprung him open for a shot that he made, he screamed, “I want to marry you!”

I had to let him know that I was already taken…almost 43 years now! Another couple of shots that found the bottom of the net and I thought he was going to hug me to death.

And now, 24 hours after that run up-and-down the court, I’m rediscovering the awful truths of being 68. My back is telling me to stop doing stupid things, my knees are cracking every step I take coming down the stairs, and the right side of my neck is pinching me to see if I’m for real!

Two days from now I’ll either do stupid and do the same thing again, or head to the safe zone of my Starbucks stool. I’m actually sitting on it right now and, as I look around, I don’t see any AED device anywhere!

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