Erin’s athleticism was apparent at a very young age. She was walking by the time she was nine months old. She rode a bicycle for the first time when she was three, on the same day her sister, who is three-and-a-half years older, rode a bicycle for the first time.
Her natural skills coupled with her love to play sports carried into little league. Her ability to play softball and basketball made her a good athlete in both sports, but her understanding of the games made her a dominant athlete in little league.
I remember the day she was playing third base. The bases were loaded. The batter hit a line drive to her, which she, of course, snagged. She turned to third to double off the runner, but he was scampering back at the direction of the coach. She then turned to second, and doubled off that runner. Perhaps that doesn’t sound overly impressive on its own. What made it impressive is that she was playing in a tee-ball league when she did that!
She was in a split class in both the fourth and fifth grades. She told me she did not want to play intramural basketball in her fourth grade year because none of the other girls really knew the game very well. I told her PE teacher about it, and she asked me to let her try something. In recognition of her skills as a fourth grader, she let her play on the class’s fifth grade boys team. She was the second leading scorer on a team that did not lose a game. She, of course, played on the boys team as a fifth grader as well, and that team also did not lose a game.
Her biggest moment, however, was in her final year of recreational little league. Her team from South End Boys and Girls Club was playing the league’s first place team from East Side Boys and Girls Club. The coach’s daughter, whose name slips my mind, Vanessa Baines, and Erin were the three best shooters on the team. The game was close all the way through. Both the coach’s daughter and Vanessa fouled out late in the fourth quarter. Without those two players, there was little chance for Erin’s team to pull off the upset.
Erin’s team trailed by three points with six seconds to play. The coach called time out. He drew up a play for Erin to take a shot, and reminded her that she needed to be beyond the three point line.
She got the ball on the inbound pass, used a screen set by a teammate to get a step on her defender, and launched the ball toward the basket. It almost seemed to go in slow motion as it made its arc and descended through the basket! Swish! Not only were the parents on her team cheering her for the shot, the parents on the other team cheered her, too, as her team mobbed her!
It was not a game winning shot, though. It merely sent the game into overtime, and Erin’s team could not match the opponents without two of its three leading scorers. Nonetheless, it was an impressive game for her. Not only had she tied the game with an amazing shot, she finished it with 17 points.
She would move on from that year of little league to three more in competitive middle school league, and then into high school where her prowess ended in basketball, though she would letter twice in softball.
Throughout the rest of her days in school, her teammates, several of whom were on the opposing team that day, would refer to that play with six seconds left as THE SHOT!
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