Tall Thought 37: Sunday / by Jennifer Wisniewski

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“Born to Run”

Throughout grade school, I cared about one thing and one thing only: basketball. I ate, drank and slept with a basketball. As I cheered on my favorite player, (#35 Dallas Comegys from DePaul), in our family TV room, I would be dribbling that ball. if I went to the corner store, I took a basketball with me. At the kitchen table I would try for hours to spin a basketball on my index finger. I went to "Doug Bruno Basketball Camp" during the summers. All my friends were on the team, and It was my life.

I was “center” for the Queen of All Saints girls’ basketball team. I wasn’t the most athletically gifted, but what I lacked in natural talent, I made up for in tenacity. There was one school—St. John Brebeuf—that massacred us every time we played them. They were faster, stronger and taller than we were—and they played dirty and smart. Every time we walked onto that court, I felt like we'd already lost.

Our basketball coach's name was Mr. C, short for Mr. Cszarobski. He was tall and thin, had a 70’s porn 'stache and wore short-shorts with knee-high tube socks. Mr. C obviously knew our "David and Goliath" complex, so during practices leading up to the game with St. John, he would blast Bruce Springsteen’s, “Born to Run”. I think his thought process was that we would beat them with our running game, and obviously he was a “Boss” fan, and looking for any excuse to listen to him. 

The last game of the season was against St. John. During half-time we were down by 20 points and Mr. C—just like out of a scene from "Hoosiers"—came down to locker the room and tried to galvanize some very defeated girls, a la Gene Hackman, and laid into us on our running game.

All year I practiced my hook shot and, with us 2 points down, I made an attempt at the final basket for the win ... and it didn’t go in. We lost again. I can’t describe the sadness after that loss. I thought we'd finally beat them. It was a hard loss to take, but at the end of every game—win or lose—you had to form a line, look every player in the eye, shake their hand and say, “good game”. Even if you hated that team with a passion—which I did.

That’s how I feel now, after the election. We were beat, played a good game—but the other side just played a better, dirtier game—and won. Defeat is a hard pill to swallow, and the earlier you learn it in life, the easier it is to accept it and move on. So, just like how I was taught to lose with grace as a child, I now try to lose with grace as an adult. Accept it, stop crying about it, pick yourself up off the floor, quietly try to figure out what went wrong and how to learn from the loss—so you can obliterate your opponent the next time around.