“Checking in for Cary-Grove High School, number 42, freshman, Mallory Wilczynski,” boomed the announcer’s voice through the speakers in Hersey High School’s orange tinted gymnasium. I ran out onto the court and tried to keep my face neutral while my brain scrambled to remember all the plays and who-in-the-world I was supposed to be guarding. It was my first time playing in a varsity basketball game and boy was I nervous. I had always been good at athletics but this was a huge opportunity to make an impression and show everyone what I was made of. Other then a great personality, of course.
The first few minutes went surprisingly well as I took some good shots and made a steal. I was finally starting to get into my element. My teammate fouled a girl on her shot so we all took our places for free throws. The bald ref, in his black and white uniform, bounced the ball to the shooter and informed her she had two shots. She made the first one. The ref bounced her the ball for a second time, and I positioned myself for the rebound. On my toes, bent knees, arms out, and the mindset that I was going to get this rebound do matter what.
Hersey’s shooter dribbled the ball a couple times, paused and took the shot. As if in slow motion, the ball bounced once, twice around the rim and right into my outstretched arms. My fingers closed around the ball easily. I then, with impeccable form, shot the ball at the perfect angle so it hit the exact center of the painted square and, only then, bounced smoothly into the basket. Swish.
I had just scored my first varsity basket – for the other team. But I was so excited that I didn’t even realize I had literally made the worst mistake a basketball player can make. After my hard to believe shot, I continued to run down the court with long, confident strides in that “no one can touch me” kind of way. My blonde hair was flowing in the wind as I tried to keep my game face on and not grin like an idiot. I listened for the announcer to say my name again. Right on queue the speakers boomed with a low voice, “Two points…by Mallory Wilczynski…” Why was he saying it with uncertainty? It was ME. Number 43, weren’t you watching ya bozo?! The announcer continued, “…for Hersey…” At this point my fair skin turned the luscious color of a tomato and my heart dropped to the soles of my brand new navy and white kicks.
I did NOT just do that.
Why oh why did I shoot at the OTHER TEAM’S basket?
My coach is going to KILL me.
I’m going to KILL me.
I’m off the team.
I’m crying. No, stop I can’t cry. Play it cool!
At this point, I’m trying to laugh off the mortifying mistake but I’m also a 14-year-old girl and very emotional so I’m crying as well. To top it all off, my coach didn’t take me out right away so I had to continue playing the fast paced game with all these older girls literally laughing at me. Looking back, I would argue that my tussled appearance strongly resembled that of the infamous Honey Boo Boo’s when she didn’t get her dessert.
It’s safe to say that this is one of, or thee most embarrassing moment of my life. But it also is a great story to tell. I ended up making the best of the situation and learned an important lesson. Even when things don’t go how you planned, you can either hide or you can laugh and move on. Thankfully, I chose the latter and continued to have a successful career in sports where I learned how to score points for my team.
(By the way, that’s me in the picture. Second from the right and clearing winning the brawl. I was an aggressive, little, six foot two bugger. And this was after I had shot for the wrong team. So clearly, my coach had the decency to believe I wasn’t a total lost cause)