I remember playing basketball out in the front yard, typically in our driveway. My home was the first house you would see driving down Drenner Park Ln. We lived in a cul-de-sac; therefore, my best moments playing basketball were only seen by those who passed me coming down my street, and of course, myself. Growing up, I felt like, no one had actually seen me accomplish something great. I felt the need to prove to everyone what I was truly capable of.
I used to challenge my dad into one-on-one games of basketball throughout the years. Of course he would beat me; I mean he’s 6’6! After about five years of losing, I decided to never to lose to my dad again. At this point in time, my dad was a lean thirty-three, and I was an athletic thirteen year-old. At the age of thirteen, I had beaten my dad in a rough, sweaty, long game of one-on-one in basketball. My victory had seemed respectful, until I asked a simple question. “How did I do?” He responded with a casual “You did well.” I continued to slide questions in about that same basketball game for a week, until I realized what had happened. He couldn’t tell me how I had played; because he was too busy trying to beat me! I had scrapped both of my knees on that hot summer concrete, trying to prove that I had something special within me! Attempting to, literally, show him what I had. At all my energies expense, I darted, pounced, and juked across the cul-de-sac, scoring with ease. Seeing this, my dad reacted with fierce competitiveness, showing me no mercy. This didn’t stop me. I jumped higher, ran faster, dribbled better, and shot quicker than my dad. He never gave me any compliments on my “game” until I was fifteen years old. He never beat me again, and he stopped playing basketball.
I remember attending Shotwell Academy, during my seventh and eighth grade years in middle school. I made the basketball team both years, and I was on B-Team. A-Team was the best, and C-Team was the worst. During my first year, try-outs were super easy, but they made a mistake and I was placed on the wrong team. That night, I went home and didn’t tell my parents anything about what had happened. Thoughts filled my head that night,” C-Team? Glen Guilbeau?” I was furious with the coaches’ outrageous decision to put me on C-Team! Little did I know, my chance to shine would come that following week.
I was invited to be a substitute player for either, A-Team or B-Team. During the bus ride, I’m relaxed, calm. We pulled up at Claughton Middle School, and, at the time, they had one of the best middle school basketball teams in the area. All the players on the bus are hyped, and I’m sitting quietly, with my head phones in. The school was hosting a pre-season basketball tournament, and ironically, the first game was Shotwell against Claughton. Claughton was winning by ten points in the second quarter when something crazy happened. Our leading B-Team point guard had twisted his ankle, and was screeching with pain on the other side of the court. Coach and a referee quickly picked him up, and brought him over to the bench. “Guilbeau, you said you aint supposed to be on C-Team. Show me something.” and with a small smirk on my face, I got into the game and played the shooting-guard position. I scored countless lay-ups, racking up an amazing nineteen points. Claughton won by seven, but the loss couldn’t compare to my gain. People had seen me! They had seen all my hard work, and pain, and they even gave me compliments! I even moved up to B-Team! Unfortunately, the other basketball players were uneasy, and difficult to understand.
Before the actual basketball season, I had moved up to B-Team. As the season went on, my scoring had decreased each game. Despite this, I still was a starter, and rarely sat on the bench. I literally stayed in the game all four quarters. I used to ask my parents for tips, and all they would say to me is “You’re not listening to the coach.” They would put in many different examples of words, but all they were saying is “You’re not listening to the coach”. This didn’t help my confidence or my ego. I couldn’t get myself to tell them about all the other negative criticism I was receiving from my team. They were obnoxious and, too many times, pre-judgmental. Just like my parents, when I did something worth speaking about, there was silence, but when I made a mistake, everyone had something to talk about. Around this time, I started understanding how jealousy works, and how looks can be deceiving, and how, most importantly, everyone isn’t your friend.
Growing up, I rarely heard compliments about my “game”. Back then, I was arrogant, and liked to show off for the approval of others. As time went by, I stopped practicing, and this caused me not to make the high school basketball team. I felt like, I was so good, I didn’t have to play for my school. AAU basketball try-outs were right around the corner, and I knew for sure I could be on a team. Sadly, I got cut. By this time, I was done with basketball. I had let all of the arrogance in my body take control of my head. As I reflect, I think if my parents had told me something of good value, I wouldn’t have thought so highly of myself. I feel like, if they had taken the time out to give me some kind of report of progress, I wouldn’t have thought I was the next Allen Iverson. I would have stayed humble, and continued to get better. I would have known that, all those winter nights playing under the street light until two a.m. meant something. I would have known that I don’t need anyone to believe in me, as long as I believe in myself. But now, I know.
Glen Guilbeau is a student at Lone Star College, North Harris.