During one game our best rebounder slammed the ball down and stomped off the court. "Everybody's yelling my name, and I'm sick of it!" she said, and ran to the bathroom—followed by the mandatory nine other girls. I looked at the little guard in the blue rectangular glasses, who popped her Dum-Dum out of her mouth and said, "Don't worry, Coach. She's having her period."
You think Red Auerbach ever had to deal with this stuff?
Coaching girls was fun. It was rewarding. It was awkward. When they came off the court, it was difficult to know how to give them their "good job" pat. On the.... Nope. On the.... Nope. I always ended up just tapping them lightly on the top of the head. But not so I messed up their butterfly hair clips.
One thing about our team: We were always polite. One time my tallest and gentlest player tried to block a shot and accidentally hit the shooter on top of the head. Our player covered her mouth in horror with both hands, enabling the other girl to drop in a layup. "I thought I hurt her!" our player explained. I believe that started my facial tic.
We lost worse than Michael Dukakis. We got creamed our first eight games, losing one 23-2 and another 19-1. Yet the girls were over it the second the games ended. (Quite often, in fact, they were over it in the third quarter.) Afterward they headed to the one place they loved to be together—the bathroom.
Finally, in our ninth game, all heaven broke loose. For the first time we hit the cutter for a layup. Our shooting guard hit three running 15-footers. We hadn't even hit a 15-foot pass to that point. We came from behind and won 16-15 in a shootout, capped by the little guard in the blue rectangular glasses setting the most beautiful pick to free up the player who made the winning layup.
In all my years of coaching, I never felt more giddy than after that win. In the delirious celebration, I grabbed the shoulders of the little girl in the blue rectangular glasses and yelled, "That was the greatest pick I've ever seen!"
And she screamed, "What's a pick?"