I made myself a promise after graduating high school, that although my high school career ended, my basketball career would not. I had heard older girls say how they would go to their college gyms and find guys to play pick up games with. I remember thinking to myself how easy that would be. Until I got to the gym...
I was nervous. It was my first week as a freshman at OU and I went to the gym every day, found an empty court, and shot baskets on my own. I always went in the daytime, and there were always other guys playing three vs. three, five vs. five, etc. on the other courts. I never saw any girls playing. I would watch shyly and continue to shoot, hoping someone would be willing to ask this short, white girl to play on their team. It seemed that they would ask every other boy at the gym to play before me.
No one ever asked me. I started to get frustrated by the second week because I knew I could easily keep up with the boys and give them a run for their money. So one day I finally got up the courage and asked. They said yes. I played, and my life changed. The boys realized that I could actually play, and now I am asked to play all the time.
There is an unknown community within the basketball courts at the Huff. Once you play, you’re part of the community. You learn the best times to go play (usually starting at 6:30 each night), and most people are extremely friendly and other girls play too. You create friendships and figure out who you want to put on your team each night. You know the rules that are silently in place that differ from regular basketball (call your own fouls, play to fifteen, no back court, the out of bounds lines are always confused, etc.) You have fun and know when to play seriously and when to just joke around. It becomes addicting to go every night. It’s great exercise, it’s fun, and you get to play the sport you love.
I have found that although I am one of the few girls that play, we are treated fairly. I am passed the ball and make contributions. It’s always funny to play the newbies at the Huff. The guy thinks that since it’s a girl he is guarding that it’ll be easy, but once you knock down a few shots or drive pass him, and his teammates get mad at him because “she can shoot!” he finally plays his hardest. They hate being shown up by a girl.
This is why I like to play. Because I don’t want special treatment. I am very competitive when it comes to basketball, very tough, and I want to get better. At the Huff, I believe that I do.
I have met many of my good friends by playing at the Huff, and every time I am there, I know I am bound to know someone. Even if I go not to play basketball, I see the same people each day. I feel as though I know the Huff like the back of my hand. We basically run the Huff. We know the system.
They recognize me, ask me to be on their team, and we play. I know every night there will be games going on, so every night I have the opportunity to play the game I love. I feel at home at the gym now. I am so grateful I gained the courage to ask to play, because it has created a new community for me. We all love the sport and all love to play every night.