The first day was rather surprising. I didn't expect that there would only be fifty-two of us. I expected to see hundreds, maybe even thousands. After all, we were trying-out for the national team. The coaches have a really huge choice as to who will make the team. I mean, this is a whole country we're talking about here. I had a good idea that by just being chosen for this try-out was an honor in itself.
This was the first of an eighteen-day national try-out. As I walked in the door of the biggest basketball court I had ever seen, I thought that every face I saw was familiar, even though I had never seen any of them before, except on television. As they'd told me before the try-out, the one who would choose the team for the Youth South-East Asian Games was none other than Coach Bodolato, probably the best coach in the country.
This try-out practically changed my whole life for the previous two months. I'd been practicing two times every day for two to three hours every day. Instead of having a good time with my friends on Friday and Saturday nights, I found myself playing ball. I played ball every time I had the chance. I never thought that basketball could change my life. They said that if I made the team I would have a college scholarship and even if I didn't, I'd get the chance to play and eventually get one during college. It would be really great not to worry about finances during college. Having a scholarship to play ball would be a dream come true.
So, there I was on the first day of what I worked so hard on for two months. This is where all the hard work and patience paid off. It was all or nothing. I'd say I did really well that first day. And then the second, the third, fourth, and so on. The last few days were rather rugged; I'd go home bruised up and have the life taken out of me.
And then - the final day. As the final try-out ended, our coach had us stand in a circle. He said some things about life and basketball and how each of us deserved a spot on the team, but that wasn't possible, of course. And so, he started to call out names. Then, the fifteenth (and last) name was called and I still hadn't heard my name. I guess I hadn't made it after all. He started to congratulate those who made the team and then turned to us and congratulated the rest of us for a job well done. As I've said before, just being chosen to try out was already a reward. I walked out the gym door with my chin up high. l
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.