Basketball Hoop Install
by Pat Arone
Marilyn moved her two boys to the other side of the city for a few reasons. She would be closer to her job and her family and the rent was cheaper. Finally, the school she chose for her sons had a terrific academic reputation and a wonderful sports department she knew would benefit them. Only two years apart, they were both smart and athletic. Tall, lean, and with a natural ability, likely from their father, they loved playing basketball. With good coaching, hard work and determination, she was hopeful their talent would pave the way to college.
Thoughts of the financial burden of college were scary. While she took on as much overtime as possible, she couldn’t imagine ever having enough money to send both boys to college. She would make sure they excelled academically as well as athletically. A scholarship for both was her goal.
It was June. The whole summer was ahead of them. Zack, 12 had just finished 6th grade. Joseph, almost 14, was looking forward to 8th grade in his new school. It took about a week for the three to settle in after the move. Marilyn hoped her sons would meet new friends before they started back to school in the Fall.
The house was comfortable with three bedrooms and a finished basement. Each boy had his own bedroom with a window facing the long-abandoned playground across the street. Weeds sprouted in patches of browns and greens from the macadam paving. Some obviously were there for several seasons – once green and tall, now dried, bent over and browned from the sun. Trash littered the area, huddled together in unsightly clumps along with broken bottles and crumpled brown bags torn open by hungry animals looking for the treasure of a half eaten sandwich. At night, some older boys hung out, hiding from their parents while they smoked stolen cigarettes and beer, adding to the mess. Thus was the view from the small row of houses across the street where Zack and Joseph now lived with their mother.
Shortly after their move, Marilyn’s brother, Jason, came to visit. Twenty-three, he was full of energy and excitement to see his two nephews for the first time in a few years. After college, he had taken a job in Africa, working as a Civil Engineer, helping to modernize the poorest of small towns and villages. The pay wasn’t much, but the satisfaction of helping others was worth it. Now that he was home, he wanted to reconnect with his sisters and his nephews.
They sat on the step drinking fresh made iced tea, listening to Jason’s stories about poor farmers and their children. He told them how he and his coworkers taught them about irrigation, efficient farming and about building sturdy housing from the materials they found nearby. “Building something from practically nothing is very rewarding,” he told Zack and Joseph. “In fact,” he said as he pointed toward to the unsightly lot, “if the young boys in the village lived near that old playground, they’d probably clean it up and turn it into a fine basketball court.”
It took about two days for them to remove all the trash and weeds. Engaging other neighborhood boys in the project took only a little convincing. When the hard work was finally finished, Jason was thrilled to reward them with some basketball equipment he purchased from a local sporting goods shop, with a wide selection of used equipment. The basketball hoop assembly ceremoniously followed installation of the backboard onto the pole. Securing it to the backboard with bolts and attaching the net was the final touch. The boys, now eight in all, stood below the net, each wondering who would score the first basket.