Friday, 10 April 2015

How I was introduced to the game

When did you start playing basketball? It's a question people ask me all
the time. The short answer is when I was 16 and a sixth former at Fraser
High School in Hamilton. But the long answer I think is quite an
interesting story and quite a unique one as well.

I didn't grow up in a real sporty family! My Mum was an X-ray tech and my
Dad was a butcher and didn't really force sport on my brother or i. I
played rugby on Saturday mornings like most kiwi kids but besides that the
only sport I took somewhat seriously was swimming (another sport where
long limbs are quite useful) but for whatever reason I got bored with it
and gave it up. So between the ages of 10-16 I didn't really play sport at
all. Then one day, though at the time I didn't realize it, my life changed
forever.

As I was walking to school one morning I got stopped on the side of the
road by a man named Doug Courtney. He asked me if I played basketball and
I said "No I don't" and he gave me the same look everyone else gave me
when they asked the same question. He encouraged me to attend the tryouts
for the schools basketball team later that day. It was strange at first!
Outside of knowing who Michael Jordan was I knew very little about the
game! I was naive enough to think that basketball being classed a 'non
contact' sport literally meant no contact. There was also another moment
that my brother STILL brings up to this day, I got a rebound and was
looking for someone to pass it to and without even realizing it I started
walking!! The coach stopped us and said "Big fella, you cant walk like
that, that's called travelling" (A problem I'm still trying to fix haha).
I didn't really go to the trials with any expectations, but I did walk
home with a pretty big smile on my face after being selected.

As it turned out Doug wasn't just some random guy who pulled over to talk
to me that morning. He was a skills coach who worked for High Performance
Sport under the guidance of Tab Baldwin. Next thing I knew I had moved to
Hamilton Boys High School, where Doug was a coach, I was playing for
junior national teams and was considered a future Tall Black! The rest, as
they say, is history.

I'm not really one who believes in fate, but it is pretty crazy to think
that if I had left home two minutes earlier or later than I did that
morning would I have even met Doug? Would I have gone to the tryouts that
day? Basketball was pretty popular at the time due to the Tall Blacks run
at the World Champs in 2002 so I think I would have picked up a basketball
somewhere along the line. But sometimes I do sit and wonder what I'd be
doing now if that chance meeting with Doug, who today I consider one of my
best friends, never occurred.

Thanks for reading
AP

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