The score stood forty to thirty, with but one quarter left to play.
T'was Mr. Yospe's turn to take the court...
(Who am I kidding, I am not going to rhyme this whole thing out. I am going to just tell you what happened; as melodramatically as possible.)
Our spirits shattered, our hope hanging by the thread of my 2007 Sketcher Cross trainer shoelace - the sixth graders had us by the throat, twisting ever so slightly. Ever so confident that the game had turned and our agony would soon be extended a full year.
The pulse of the crowd had turned against us. Chants of "GO SIXTH GRADE" filled the arena/audi-cafi-nasium like rice flowing through an empty man-sized jar. As I stepped on that court that day, I am not sure I fully understood the magnitude of that moment. My mind flashed back to my youth...
The ball bounced with abandon on my backyard basketball court. With cracked, weather worn hands I would play, working on everything from my slam-ball form to my dunk-ability quotient. We built it and they came: friends from all walks of the neighborhood. They came from far and wide to the mecca of dunkball: the Yospe backyard. We were referred to as "The Chosen" - an elite group of dunkballers gathered together to slam, jam and wham-a-jamma-ding-SLAM!
I knew that this was moment I had trained for all those many years ago. Those countless hours of dunking in the rain; learning how to correctly hang on the rim as to not land on a dear friend. I glanced at the puny sixth graders across from me, and then at the rim and I realized - neither stood a chance. For what was about to hit them was a Yospe tornado... a "Yosp-A-do" if you will.
What happened next left the sixth grade boys reeling back into the fifth grade and beyond. Steal, dunk. Block, dunk. Rebound, monster dunk. When the dust cleared, the sixth graders and their iniquitous - 2 points for every basket to our 1 rule - stood in stunned silence. Mr. Yospe, the dominator, had won the game for the teachers.
As I was raised high above the shoulders of the other teachers and carried off the court, I could feel that the tides had changed. The crowd was now chanting "MR. YOSPE, MR. YOSPE". My mind again went back to those hours of shooting hoop on cold rainy days in my backyard for endless hours. "It was worth it, it was worth it." was all that went through my mind. I glanced over to the sideline while being carried in glory and I swear I saw Mr. Miaggi wink at me...
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere teachers laugh, and sixth graders do wail;
But there is no joy in West Jordan — mighty Yospe raised some hell.