I’m quite proud to be from God’s own Alabama, and this is no secret. What you may not know is that I actually spent my first two years of high school in Colorado. When my mom and stepfather wed, they stepped away from the ballet world to pursue an opportunity out west. Our first year there was spent in the mountains outside of Colorado Springs, the next year we moved to southern Colorado. The town of Crestone, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, was home to 73 souls. Kids from Crestone take a thirteen-mile bus ride to go to school in nearby Moffat.
|Crestone is a stunningly beautiful place.|
|Thanks to chemo I'm almost as skinny now as I was then.|
The run up to the trip was a bit rocky. I can be an ass from time to time, and this particular quality was magnified in the 15-year-old version of myself. Despite my talents, I was on the outs with our coach- who I thought to be a poor one. (This was mostly true.) I don’t know that I ever told coach Brillhart that, but I suspect he knew what I thought. I don’t know if my opinion was shaped by his ineptitude or by the fact that he was an authority figure trying to throttle my adolescent awesomeness. In either event, we settled into an uneasy détente- I needed him because I wanted to play, and he needed me because he had a limited pool of talent.
|This about sums it up. The only picture of Brillhart |
on the basketball page of the yearbook. (He's probably a
really good guy, but I'm afraid he never had a chance with us.)
In hindsight, I think we can agree that of my mother’s three boys, I was by far the easiest teenager. Unfortunately for me, I was first, so I got hammered for things that my brothers easily got away with. To wit, my mother’s world nearly came crashing down over something as simple as a haircut. At the time, I was sporting a flattop- a conservative look, harkening back to the clean-cut ‘50’s. In the 80’s, however, athletes were embellishing their flattops by shaving lines or other shapes in the sides. One day, while watching a game on TV I saw that a player had shaved his uniform number into the side of his head. Eureka! The next day at school, I asked one of my teammates (who inexplicably had hair clippers at school) to help me out. Rather than simply copy the guy on TV, I thought it would be awesome to shave the entire side of my head except for my number 21 (leaving the flattop intact). My mother was mortified, I’m pretty sure she cried. It might have been the end of the world. I don’t recall the serious part of my punishment, but one of the conditions was that I had to wear a toboggan around the house until it grew back.
|Way ahead of my time. Tying bows in '87.|
A few hours after our departure we pulled off the highway and wound our way through a small town. It was getting late and I surmised we were headed to the hotel for a restful night before the flight out. When the party bus came to a stop in the overfull parking lot of a gymnasium, it started to dawn on me. Brillhart told us to grab our bags and get ready to change into our home uniforms. I walked into the gym and my heart dropped.
Welcome to Scott Gym, home of the Trinidad State Trojans. Trinidad State Junior College? Trinidad? Colorado? Bull. Shit. No sun? No airplane flight? No trip to a sandy beach? All of my conversations over the past couple of months fell into place and made perfect sense. I felt like an utter fool, but hid my disappointment and embarrassment.
I had a good game that night, but don’t really remember any of the details. Afterwards we returned to the hotel and settled in for a weekend of basketball that turned out to be much more.
To be continued…
Beastie Boys provided the sound track to part 1 of the story. Paul Revere, and Rhymin & Stealin were in heavy rotation on the bus.