Consequently, even though Namine was looking forward to this morning’s first day of basketball camp, it was a reserved anticipation. She had her doubts as to whether or not today would be anything other than the disappointment she’d already suffered — indeed, she needed a little convincing this morning. I couldn’t say I blame her for that. But I told her what I always do: we never know until we try, and it could only improve.
She was so glad she did.
The man in charge’s name is Jordan, and he became Namine’s newest best friend. Of course Namine is friendly to everyone — even people who’ve borne her ill — but this was more. She must have been expecting another distant adult, not someone who engaged her on her own level.
When Jordan introduced himself to Namine, she blurted, “Hey, you’re in a wheelchair, just like me!” He smiled, and said he sure was. He explained that while normally they would be in the gym, it was being renovated this week. So he led us — Namine wheeling right by his side — down the street to a basketball court.
Once at the court, Namine was given a sports wheelchair. They didn’t have one her size — this will be remedied next week — so Jordan stayed in his own everyday ‘chair and let Namine use his. She was apprehensive at first. It was much higher than she was used to; the back was too high, preventing her from being able to pull her arms back far enough to move her arms in large strokes.
But after some practice, Namine settled in. Pretty soon, she was right at home in the wheelchair. Jordan started working with her on catching the ball. Namine got hit in the face a few times, but took it in stride.
Once she’d gotten the hang of catching the ball, Jordan moved on to having her pass the ball two-handed. She improved with every try.
Next, he had Namine try one-handed throws. She took to that pretty quickly, too — with her left hand. She’s never had full rotation in her right shoulder, and of course that affected how much she could move that arm. That’s okay, though. He worked with what was comfortable for her.
Changing things up a bit, Jordan took a break and had Namine work with a girl named Caroline to practice defense. Caroline explained to Namine that her job was to try to keep her from getting past; it was Namine’s job to try and get past Caroline.
As the session started to wind down, Jordan tried to get a game of “Sharks and Minnows” going. It sort of worked, for a while. Then it sort of broke down into everyone just wheeling around. Namine had a blast dragging Caroline around behind her.
On the walk back to the car, which was still parked by the entrance to the gym, Jessica pointed out to me just how dirty Namine’s arms were. I laughed at the proof of how hard she’d worked played. Each scuff mark, every streak of dirt, it was all evidence of a great time. She couldn’t wait until next week.