Authors: Eric Walters
Full Court Press
Text copyright Â© 2000 Eric Walters
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in
any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be
invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Walters, Eric, 1957â
Full court press
ISBN 10: 1-55143-169-6
ISBN 13: 978-1-55143-169-7
PS8595.A598F84 2000 jC813'.54 C00-910883-1
First published in the United States, 2000
Library of Congress Control Number:
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs
provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing
Industry Development Program and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of
British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Teresa Bubela
Cover photography by Laura Leyshon
Interior illustrations by Kirsti
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For my son, Nick;
win, lose or draw,
you always make me proud
As the last strains of the national anthem faded away, we all settled into our seats to wait for the P.A. announcements.
“Good morning, Clark Boulevard students, and welcome back for another wonderful week!” said our principal, the ever-cheerful Ms. Grieve. I liked school, but it always sounded like she
“I'd like to start the week by reading the names of the Clark All-Stars for the past week, those students who were caught doing something great!”
As Ms. Grieve began to list off the names I started to drift off. There were always lots and
lots of students who made the list.
I looked down. Underneath my shirt I could make out the outline of my medal â my gold medal. I hadn't taken it off since it was given to me on Friday. If I had it my way I would have worn it over top of my shirt where every-body could see it, but my father said I shouldn't show it off like that. He said that winning something was like having underwear. Just âcause you have it doesn't mean you should be waving it around over top of your head. I guess he was rightâ¦ but it would have been nice just to show it off a little.
Across the room sat my best friend, Kia. She flashed me a quick smile. I knew that her medal was hanging around her neck, hidden under a heavy sweater.
“And now,” Ms. Grieve continued, “Mr. Roberts has a few announcements.”
I was always interested in anything our gym teacher had to say, so I snapped to attention.
“I'd like to congratulate all those who played in our three-on-three basketball tournament,” he began. “Could all those who participated please stand up.”
Hesitantly kids, including me and Kia, pushed back their chairs and rose to their feet.
There were fifteen of us in our class, and, of course, more kids doing the same thing in other classes all around the school.
“First of all I want to say,” Mr. Roberts continued, “that all those who participated in the tournament are winners. Let's give all of them a round of applause.”
The kids still sitting began to clap. I heard the same sound echoing through the halls, coming from other rooms.
“That's great,” Mr. Roberts said. “And I'd like everybody to now take a seat. That is everybody except for our finalists: Kingsley, Dean, Roy, Marcus, Kia and Nick.”
I stopped myself halfway down and straightened up. I'd wanted to show off my medal, but now as I was standing there with all the eyes on me, I would have loved to take my seat. At least Kia was standing as well.
“We had a thrilling final game after school on Friday between two excellent teams,” Mr. Roberts said. “In the end the winners were the team of Marcus, Kia and Nick. Let's give them another round of applause!”
Our classmates started to clap and cheer and even whistle. I gave a little half smile and a bit of a wave and then sunk down into
my seat as the cheering faded.
“And on that note,” Mr. Roberts continued, “beginning before school tomorrow we'll be having the tryouts for the school basketball team. All interested students should obtain a permission form from the office. This letter has to be signed by both your parents and your teacher. Thank you.”
As the next announcement came on, I looked at Kia, and I knew what she was thinking. If only we were in grade five instead of grade three, we'd be there tomorrow. I guess we'd just have to wait until grade five.
“All right, everybody, we have plenty of work to do this morning, so let's get down to it,” Mrs. Orr stated. “We'll start with spelling.”
A few kids grumbled, while some of the others were slow to get out their books.
“Please don't worry about not getting your work done,” Mrs. Orr said loudly. “There is plenty of time to finish your workâ¦ during recess, at lunch, and then after school.”
I knew she wasn't joking around. In this class you had two choices: finish your work, or lose your free time finishing your work. I pulled out my spelling and started.
* * *
The recess bell rang out just as I finished my last math question and put down my pencil. I got up and hurried to Mrs. Orr's desk, joining the line of kids waiting to have their work checked so they could go out for recess. Kia was right behind me.
“Soccer or basketball?” she whispered.
“How about foot hockey?” I suggested, turning around to talk to her.
“I guessâ¦ if we can play soccer at lunch recess or â”
“Nick, are you hoping to go out for recess?”
I turned back around. I was next in line. Quickly I stepped forward and handed Mrs. Orr my books â spelling and math â the work for the first quarter of the day.
She ran her finger along the column of answers.
“All done, Nicholas. You're free.”
I walked over to get my coat. I was in no rush since I wasn't going to go out until she'd checked Kia's work too.
“Oh, and Nicholasâ¦,” Mrs. Orr said.
I turned back around.
“I just wanted you to know â both you
and Kia â that you have my permission to try out for the basketball team.”
“We do?” Kia questioned.
“Of course. You both have satisfactor y marks and a good attitude toward school. I just expect that you'll not let these practices get in the way of your schoolwork.”
Kia and I exchanged a confused look.
“But Mrs. Orr,” I said. “We're in grade three.”
“I'm aware of your grade.”
“Yeah, of course,” I stammered. “I just mean that the school team is for grade fives.”
“It is?” Mrs. Orr asked.
“It was last year,” Kia said.
“I just thought it would be for the best players in the school,” Mrs. Orr said.
Kia looked at me. “Do you think that we could?”
I shrugged. “I don't know. Maybe.”
“Then maybe we should be playing basketball at recess,” Kia suggested.
“I'm afraid not,” Mrs. Orr said, shaking her head. “You missed questions four through eight, so you'll be spending your recess in here finishing up your math,” she said as she handed Kia back her book.