It may come as a fair surprise to many, considering my overwhelming vertical footprint, but I'm a decent basketball player. I'm certainly better at 41 than I was at sixteen, the product of years of scrimmaging while coaching at McLean and all the thrice-weekly faculty/staff noontime games at Puget Sound. I've honed my extremely-poor man's John Stockton game with the focus on passing and perimeter defense that comes with a lifetime of 5'6" stature. I can outhustle and outrun most of the other old dudes on the court these days, hit my share of outside shots, and even sneak to the rim on occasion. Risking my Achilles tendons be damned, it's an enjoyable way to keep the weight off and steal some quality guy time.
My earliest basketball experiences came next door at Kyle Abbott's driveway and later in Whitney Tucker's, lit with all the hanging illumination budding engineers could jerry-rig. Those were outdoor New England games, with slick balls often devoid of grip. And most of the competitors were veterans of the Exeter Rec leagues - Aren Paster, Whitney Tucker, Matthew DeBlois, Matt Cashen, Kevin Foote. I have fond recollections of that league: the Rebels of my sophomore year with Marc Fortier and the endless assists; the Spartans of my junior year when I improbably carried a terrible team on my insufficiently broad back (when you're counting on me to hit threes on every possession, you're going to lose games 70-40); my senior year with the Hoyas cut short by hamstring troubles.
My favorite place for high school hoops, though, was behind the Kensington Elementary School, on those tiny courts. We'd play there far too often, with those named above as well as Andy Sargent and Sean Scollin and a host of others. None of us was really all that good, but the games were fun and the camaraderie was great. That's what I still enjoy about the game, and what has me at the Memorial Fieldhouse in Tacoma three times a week, sweating with the oldies.