Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Jan. 18
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- Serra Mesa Stories
A lost home, but a found memory
A couple days ago I went to Toby Wells YMCA to work out. It felt like any other time but it also felt a little different. On the way to the weights and treadmill room was the basketball room; I usually would pass that room and watch people shoot around. But this time I saw a bunch of women stretching and dancing. I knew that my dad told me about the new exercise dance room that would replace the basketball courts but seeing is so much more then hearing sometimes. It hit me hard as I realized the place I once looked at as a sanctuary was gone.
When I was in the fourth grade I was tired of always being picked last in sports. I hated how I was horrible at every sport in PE so I asked my dad if he could teach me how to play basketball. I knew that he could play basketball since he would always go to the park with me and my older brother and would always try to make me play but I never really cared to. But it finally hit me that I needed to at least be confident in one sport. So my dad took me every Wednesday to the newly opened Toby Wells YMCA, it was much closer then the Mission Valley one and it was convenient to practice on Wednesdays since it was minimum day along with soccer practice for my older brother.
“Shoot again!” My dad would always say to me everytime I missed a shot. As time went on and I started to go two times a week to Toby wells I would start to play with him and try to shoot over his block. The gym was so big and clean looking plus there were barely people there so I could stay at the gym as long as I wanted. But as I got better more people came and I had to start sharing the court. So instead of shooting, I would practice passing the ball with my dad. I could tell he really enjoyed teaching me how to play, I know he thought if anyone in the family who would ask to learn how to play basketball it would have been my brother. But I could never forget his face whenever I started making far away shots and the ball would go swiftly in the basket. “Wow!” He would smile as he started to see I was ready to join a team.
In the fifth grade I joined the Mission Valley girl’s basketball team; it was hard at first learning how to be competitive since I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to hurt anyone. But my dad would teach me how to play defense back at the Toby Wells gym. We went as often as we could and as I started to have games at Mission Valley the practice I did over at Tobey Wells showed. I loved basketball so much and the feeling of knowing that I was really good at something for once made me try out and then join for the next season.
Over the next two years I kept on joining almost every season, some seasons my dad even stepped in and volunteered to be the coach. It comforted me knowing that he would by my side being my coach through each hard game. By the end of seventh grade school got harder and I hated to tell my dad that I didn’t want to play basketball anymore. I thought maybe by high school I could do it but school and life in general got even harder.
Now as I reflect on how much that basketball gym affected me hurts. That was my second home, I felt special as I surprised my dad and others with my progress as I practiced every week on those courts. I would sometimes just practice alone after I stopped playing on a basketball team and I could still hear the crowd cheering after I made a basket. But I guess I have to look at it this way, this new exercise room will maybe end up some other girl’s cherished memory. The new room was created for a reason, since more people wanted a bigger dance room and if that’s what they wanted then I can’t protest. Maybe one day I’ll take a class there.
“Nice new exercise room, much bigger than the other one, isn’t it?” A woman who works there said to me as she saw me staring through the windows of the new room. “Yeah, it’s great.” I grinned.