We Knew Her When

I love the smell of a high school gymnasium. They all smell the same: a heady mixture of mustiness, floor wax and sweat. Like the wiff of an old perfume or my Grandma’s Sunday roast, the smell transports me to another place and time, one that still feels like yesterday but in reality is more than 20 years in the past.

We traveled to Stephenville, Texas this weekend to watch my 6-foot, 2-inch Freshman neice play in a varsity basketball tournament. Pei Pei (Cado’s name for her) comes by her athleticism quite naturally. Her dad played basketball for Texas Tech, one uncle for Baylor, and one for Oklahoma. Now it is her turn. She loves the game and she, and her family, have aspirations of an exciting college career. For the record, when I was a freshman in high school the only aspirations I had were a new pair of Pepe jeans, some Sperry topsiders and for someone to pleasetell me where the football team hid my 1969 orange Volkswagon Bug.

In my husband’s family sports is the central theme. It really doesn’t matter if it is little league, high school, college or professional. It could be kick ball, tetherball, baseball, basketball, football or table tennis … just give them someone to follow and cheer on. I am pretty sure the only sport they don’t call a sport and wouldn’t be caught dead following is any form of cheerleading, which pretty much makes me a non-entity in most conversations. I feel like Barbara Streisand in her role with Ryan O’Neil in The Main Event. Remember that one? I love the part where she is sitting around with all the boxers telling war stories of injuries and she tries to fit in by telling about a paper cut she got on her tongue licking and envelope. That’s me.

Back to Pei Pei. She has already made a name for herself as the only freshman on the varsity team. Like most things high school, she is having to prove herself to her coaches and teammates, and is learning some valuable lessons along the way. Her skill has come naturally to her and until now, she has not had to push herself in order to stand out among her peers. But the stakes — and the competition — are higher. Everyone from her teammates to their parents want to know that she has earned the right to take a starting position from an upperclass-woman. Even her coach pushes her perhaps a little more than he might the others, but only because he knows where she ends up in four years will have everything to do with what he can help teach her now, both on the court and off.

Big Guy has followed every single game of the season from his perch in front of the computer an entire state away. Via text messaging, he receives constant updates on the stats of every game, and I am sure is the first to view the rundown of the games online. I look forward to the day when he can start coaching our kids in whatever sports they try. Even though his family is extremely competitive, I admire his desire to teach them the games, not just coach them to win. He is a coach trapped in an attorney’s body.


Here is Aunt Kelly (Pei Pei’s mom) with Dutch and Cado. She is married to Big Guy’s oldest brother, Richard.


Aunt Pattie, Big Guy’s sister, came over from Ft. Worth to watch the games. Dutch was lovin’ him some Aunt Pattie. Each time she held him he just snuggled into her.


Here is Pei Pei with Cado and Jalyn. How cute are they? Jalyn is Aunt Kelly’s great-niece (I think!). She is the cutest darn girl and Cado absolutely had to do everything she was doing the entire weekend. Pei Pei is so great to the girls and it just makes me love her even more than I already do.


They girls were decked out to support Pei Pei. Cado made sure to explain her shirt to anyone who would listen. During the games they would shout their support with no real understanding, but with great enthusiasm.  Cado would yell, “Go Pei Pei! You can do it!” when she was on the bench. I love optimism.


By the last game, the cheerleaders were needing something else to do. Enter Officer Kennerly of the Stephenville Police Department. No, come on. They weren’t so desperate and un-checked that they required police supervision. I think it was quite the opposite. I think Officer Kennerly was the one needing something to do. So he deputized them and made Deputies In Charge of the Door, which they took quite seriously. I found his gentle, good-naturedness to be a little disarming (no pun intended). I tried to imagine him in a serious, weapon-waving, authority-exerting situation, and I just couldn’t make myself go there. Which, in retrospect, may be why he was guarding the door at a sparsely attended girls’ varsity basketball game.


Here is Dutch intimidating his cousin Grant on the free-throw line. Big Guy even looks ready to be schooled by him. Look out boys.

That’s all folks. It was a great weekend made even greater by the family that came together to cheer on Pei Pei. We have some other games on the calendar in January that are an easy distance from our lake house. It will be fun to watch Pei Pei mature as a young lady and as a player over the next four years. Oh, and Coach Coale, since I am sureyou are reading this, you’d better get your foot in this door asap. We are counting on Pei Pei playing for OU (he for obvious reasons and me because it will cut down on travel time). Pei Pei and her parents don’t know that yet, but Big Guy and I think it is a smashing idea.


1 Comment

  1. Britt said,

    January 5, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Go Pei Pei!

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