I grew up in a basketball court. My sister played on a traveling basketball team for the majority of her childhood, and being the youngest, I was carted around for most of her games. The sound of squeaking tennis shoes on a shiny court are forever ingrained in my memory.
I really didn’t mind going to all of her games. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. Before each tournament, I would gather as many quarters as I could from my piggy bank so I could buy candy at the concessions stands. Sometimes I would buy a pickle. I would also play games on my green Gameboy or listen to music on my Discman. I kept myself so entertained that I’m not sure how much basketball I was actually watching.
In addition to all of the activities I did to keep myself busy, I was also the team’s “cheerleader." I was the ringleader of all the little sisters from the team. We became our own version of the Osseo Orioles Cheer Squad and we were a hoot (or an annoyance, depending on who you asked).
I remember getting white and blue pom poms for Christmas one year, and using them to root on the Orioles (whose colors are black and orange). I don’t think the color disparity mattered much to the parents in the stands. What they probably noticed is that I had no voice.
In third grade, I was diagnosed with Screamer’s Nodules. “What is Screamer’s Nodules?” you ask. It’s what happens to a kid when they talk too much (or too loudly, which was probably my case).
All of my childhood, I sounded like a raspy bull frog. People thought it was kind of cute. My third grade teacher did not and sent me to speech class once a week.
If I told you that speech class helped me overcome my Screamer’s Nodules, I would be lying. Speech class to me was a way to get out of regular class. My speech teacher gave me assignments to do at home, which I never did. I was supposed to say my “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” on a daily basis. I was also instructed not to whisper, cheer, talk loudly, yell, clear my throat, cough, or laugh.
Now if you know me, or any other third grader in the universe, you would know that I did not follow any of these rules. My mom was really ticked off about the no laughing rule and at that point, pretty much gave up on a cure.
My friends loved that I went to speech class. If I “did my homework," I would be rewarded with stickers. After getting so many stickers, I was allowed to bring a friend to speech with me. We would eat popcorn and play Candy Land, while everyone was stuck in class learning multiplication.
If my speech teacher would have seen me at one of my sister’s basketball games, she would have been in shock. Instead of softly talking, I was prancing around the gym, yelling, “Give me an ‘O’!”
A miracle must have happened during the summer before seventh grade. When I met my new speech teacher at the junior high, she told me that I didn’t have to go to therapy anymore. Hallelujah! No more lying!
A few years later, I entered the gymnasium at my high school. A passion of mine was born several years before on those shiny courts. It wasn’t basketball. It was cheerleading and I was trying out for the team.