Once a Gator, Always a Gator

When you enter high school as a nervous little freshman, you can expect to experience a lot of ‘firsts’. Maybe the first year of a high school sport, your first ‘Reindeer Games’, your first truly difficult English class. As a high school senior, we have to face a lot of things for the last time. While there are some  things I look forward to never having to do again, like waiting for the bus or having the same exact classes every single day, there are a few events that I’ll miss terribly. One of these is playing basketball with my favorite people in the whole world. Your senior season of a sport means that you also get to take part in senior night.

At Gateway, we take senior nights very seriously. It’s tradition for the girls basketball team’s younger members to decorate the gym with balloons, streamers, and fantastic posters before the game. We get showered with gifts from teammates and family members and get to hear our coach gush about how amazing we are. But one thing that didn’t register with me until the game actually started was that that would be the last time I’d play in the gym. The gym where I’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into basketball. The gym where I’ve endured 7am Sunday practices countless times in preparation for a Monday game. That gym is where I created everlasting friendships with some of the goofiest and most amazing people I’ve ever met. I’ve grown up in that gym, with my best friend, Megan, by my side since the first day of basketball tryouts in seventh grade. That day, we passed by the gym hallway about four times because we had no idea where it was, and when we did find it, we were terrified of the older girls who were already there. Through tough losses, hard practices, and big wins, Megan and I have been through it all together. I think that’s why I shed a tear right before we ran into the gym together for the last time.

Nostalgia aside, our senior night was very important for reasons besides celebrating our basketball careers. A win on that night meant that we could walk out of the gym as undefeated league champions, a title that we worked for all season. A league title meant a new heading on a banner, league champ jackets, and coach getting a new tattoo. Yes, you heard me right. For every team he’s had win a league title, he’s gotten a tattoo with that team’s title year. We wanted that. The game was against Saint Mary’s, a team we had beaten before and were definitely capable of beating again. The whole game was a little bit of a mess, the score flip flopped a few times and we were missing a lot of shots. In the end however, we ended up with a win, and the league title. The undefeated league title. Now, up until this point, I had gotten through the night without crying a whole lot, and I thought that I could make it out without doing that. I was wrong. The game ended with me attempting a half court shot at the buzzer (which did not go in by the way), and my teammates running from the bench to hug me. I noticed Megan was crying after hugging our coach, but that’s not what got my water works going. I gave coach a hug, and right before I went to line up for the handshake, coach said to me, “That’s how the game should have ended, with the ball in your hands.” You better believe I bawled my eyes out. I can’t express how much my basketball team has meant to me over the years, and especially this season. And as cliche as it sounds, my time of being a Gator isn’t over. As every coach at Gateway says at the end of each season, once a Gator, always a Gator.

Driveway or Ice Rink?

In previous posts, I’ve talked about what it’s like to be a high school senior and how I’ve been handling everything going on in my life. This time, I’d like to focus on what it’s like to be a high school senior in the Hilltowns. Living in the Hilltowns is much different than living in any other place for a lot of reasons. We’re far away from everything, our high school has a miniscule number of students, and dealing with weather can be a very interesting experience. Winter in particular is quite an event.

The majority of Hilltown dwellers either live on (or know someone who has) a dirt or traprock driveway, also known as the trail of doom when snow and ice arrive. I am one of these people. I’d like to say that I’ve mastered my driveway after maneuvering it for 18 years, but alas, I cannot. I’ll admit that I  have almost face planted on my driveway at least 47 times this winter. To sum up just how treacherous some of our hilltown driveways can be, let me tell you about something that happened to me recently. Now, keep in mind that I do know how to walk on ice, don’t let this experience fool you.

After a night of bowling with my best friend and her siblings, we called it a night and went back to their house. Let me preface this by saying that her  driveway is notorious for being the equivalent of an ice rink. So, we’re pulling into the driveway and as we go to park next to one of the other cars, the car immediately starts sliding back down the driveway. All four of us go silent as the car turns sideways, gracefully gliding to the bottom of the hill. We stop about a foot in front of another vehicle, and decide that the car can stay there for the night, as it was completely impossible to move it in the current state of the driveway. That’s not even the best part of the whole situation. What happened after we all got out of the car still makes me laugh hysterically.

The first to exit the car was my best friend’s younger sister, who was extremely confident in her ability to navigate an icy hill. As you might expect, she had little success and had to instead make her way up in the snow. After an immense struggle, she made it to the top of the driveway. My journey did not go as smoothly. Immediately after I stepped foot out of the car, I had to grab onto something to avoid smashing my face on the ice. I could have honestly slapped some skates on and been better off than with the boots I was wearing at the time. All the while this is happening, my friends are cackling as we all continue struggling. I resorted to jumping in some snow to avoid catastrophic injury, ever so carefully making my trek up the driveway. At last, all four of us triumphantly stood at the top of the menacing path, honestly wondering how in the world we made it up alive.

Now, I didn’t tell you this story to complain about winter, I did it so that those blessed with normal driveways can understand that some people have to basically climb Mount Everest to get into their house. We have to deal with a lot living in the middle of nowhere, rarely getting through a winter without some traumatic incident occurring. As a high schooler who has to consistently scrape ice off of her windshield and pour hot water on her door handles to unfreeze them, I and others who go through this deserve some praise. As the brutal winter continues on in Western MASS remember this: if your icy driveway could also be used as a skating rink,  proceed with caution and find the nearest snowbank.

Can We Skip Third Quarter?

Ah yes, second semester. We’ve made it here at last. All of that last-minute cramming for midterms paid off (sort of) and on we go with the school year. The first few months of the school year flew by at some points, and slowed down to a snail’s pace at others. First quarter let me settle in to my AP classes, while second quarter brought a time of frantically trying to figure out the layers of the integument in Anatomy. But what comes after that is a whole different beast.

Second semester brings us third quarter, which I’ve titled as “Slacker Central”. This is the quarter where 99% of the student body begins to care less about schoolwork. It happens every single year, whether you’re a freshman or a senior, everyone starts to slack a little, even if it’s by the most miniscule amount. You start to think about things like “Missing one homework assignment couldn’t possibly hurt my grade right?” Then that one assignment suddenly turns into four and turning in an unfinished essay while instead watching countless ‘Funny Fail’ videos on YouTube… not that I’ve ever done this. And you want to know what happens as soon as fourth quarter begins? Everyone suddenly starts working twice as hard to make up for their lack of effort in the previous quarter. I personally am trying my very hardest to not be one of these students, especially because it is engrained in the minds of seniors to stop caring about anything school related. But if I’m being honest, it’s really difficult.

The order of importance of things in my brain right now is as follows; college scholarships, basketball, school, everything else. For any of my teachers who may be reading this, sorry! (I’m still putting in effort though, I promise.) The word college and everything that comes with it has not left my brain since the end of last summer. The only difference is that my focus no longer lies on getting into college, but rather, on figuring out how in the world to pay for it. I’m hoping that I’ll magically come across $200,000 somehow and everything will be fine and dandy, but I know that this is very unlikely. So what am I planning on doing about paying for college? Scholarships, scholarships and more scholarships. And if that doesn’t work out I guess I’ll be eating ramen noodles for the next four years… yay college! Besides that whole mess, second semester has been going pretty well, and to any other students out there, just do your work. Trust me on this one guys. By senior year, you’ll thank me.

Recent Posts

Once a Gator, Always a Gator
Driveway or Ice Rink?
Can We Skip Third Quarter?
Nothing is Set in Stone
The Most Wonderful(ly Stressful) Time of the Year
The Life of a Student Athlete: A Bittersweet Time
And Oh, Did I Mention College?