Freshman Year

Free Freshman Year by Annameekee Hesik

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Authors: Annameekee Hesik
chest and perfectly fitted navy shorts. Like me, she’s got legs as tall as a saguaro cactus, and I feel like we have an immediate bond. But that feeling fades because a little ways behind Coach, pushing a rack of basketballs and dressed in the same outfit Coach has on, are two people I’m slightly sick to my stomach about seeing: Stef and Garrett.
    Coach Kimball blows her whistle, and we all forget our fear of the court and run over like trained dogs. Stef and Garrett stand beside her and are introduced as sophomores on the Junior Varsity team who are there to help her pick the freshman team. They look official with their clipboards and whistles, but all I can think about are the two of them hovering over me in Spanish, catching me in that stupid lie.
    Coach Kimball prompts Stef with a nonchalant nod and Stef blows her whistle signaling that she’s in charge now. “Let’s go. Lines of five, everyone,” Stef says with authority, and all us freshmen know just what to do because this is how Mrs. Schwartz leads us in stretches for PE.
    Kate and I hide in the back row like usual because our long legs make our shorts too short, thus revealing a little more leg and butt than we’d like. Bonus for today? It’s a good place to hide from Stef and Garrett.
    â€œOkay. Sit it, spread ’em, and touch ’em,” Stef yells. We don’t know what she means because that was something Mrs. Schwartz has never said, so we have to wait to follow Stef’s lead. She sits on the court, spreads her legs, and then stretches out to touch her toes. We all do the same.
    A girl passes a clipboard to me, but it takes me a second too long to notice, which gets Kate all irritated. “You better pay attention, Abbey,” she whispers to me, as she adds both our names to the list. “We’re making this team together. Got it? Who owns this?”
    I roll my eyes, but she looks a bit psychotic, so I give in. “Okay. God, we do,” I say, and this time I mean it. After all, I’m here. I might as well do my best and try to get Garrett and Stef to forgive me.
    After we stretch, Coach Kimball blows her whistle. “Let’s start with ten warm-up laps, girls. And let’s see some hustle, okay?” The fact that she’s asking instead of demanding with threats like Mrs. Schwartz makes me want to do anything for Coach K, so I run laps like never before.
    On my seventh lap around the gym, I make sure Kate isn’t looking and then wave hi to Stef and Garrett, as I pass them. Garrett waves back and Stef grants me a smile, so I run even faster on the remaining three laps.
    Next are defensive slides. Garrett shows us how they’re done. I notice then that her long brown hair is pulled back in a ponytail that is a bit on the low side. “Start here on the sideline,” Garrett explains. “Bend your knees and get low. If you stay too high, you’ll lose the girl you’re guarding. Then point the lead foot in the direction you want to go. And never cross one foot over the other.” She shows us a couple of times and my confidence soars. It’s exactly how I’ve been practicing. “Okay, your turn,” she says, and we line up.
    Even though she told them not to cross one foot over the other, a few girls do and end up tripping and falling, but I stay low and shuffle with ease. Kate stumbles once but doesn’t fall.
    The last drill of the day promises to be my most challenging. Sure, I practiced the footwork for layups, but I don’t have a basketball hoop at my house, or a basketball for that matter, so I’m not really sure if I can dribble, run, and shoot at the same time.
    â€œCrap, I can’t do these,” Kate says after running to the back of the line with me.
    I’ve already tried and missed three times. “I know. I suck, too.” But no one has made any shots, which makes me feel a tiny bit better.
    â€œHow are you supposed to

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