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I get up early.

Nothing new for me on Saturday morning.

Looking outside my window I see we got a lot of snow.

My father is not coming by today to get me.

It’s a crap shoot with that actually. I like when he comes by, he takes me down to Timboo’s and I spend all day there. Him and mom divorced when I was five.

But if he doesn’t come by, it’s all good.

Thinking of grabbing a shovel and going to see if anyone needs their sidewalk shoveled. Could make a few dollars. The people on Fuller Place are always looking to have their sidewalks cleared. The store owners on the avenue too.  But I don’t have a shovel.

I get dressed and walk to the schoolyard.

Cross ninth avenue, down Windsor Place, hang a right on Howard.

Reaching down I grab some snow and make a snowball. Good packing.

I fire a fastball across Howard Place and bang it against the wall.

Few people are shoveling their sidewalks.

One kid is trying to make a snowman. He’s alone. Probably about nine years old. He’s struggling actually. I pick up some more snow, make another snowball and throw it at him. Just missed his head.

Entering the yard I see Gammie and Edgar shoveling the middle court.

These guys are nuts.

“Yo Red, grab a shovel,” Gammie shouts.

I look around and think, I don’t have one.

Gammie points over towards the fence on Howard Place.

Against the fence, just a few yards away is a small shovel so I grab it, walk through the snow and help them push the rest of the snow off the court.

Looks like they have been here for a while. I need to tell you, it’s a few minutes after nine.

It’s what we do. Shovel the court so we can play.

No excuses!

When I played basketball for Holy Name, this is where we practiced.

Right here in the boys schoolyard.

No gym.

Just the yard.

Our coaches made us shovel the court.

And yes, we practiced in the rain.

Nothing was ever cancelled.

Parents never complained.

After about 10 minutes we have a clear path to work on our dribbling.

From one baseline to another.

Looks like the yellow brick road from Wizard of Oz.

Gammie grabs a ball which was sitting in the snow and starts to go up the court towards the church wall.

He’s not wearing gloves. But he has a really cool hat on.

Edgar watches closely and soon as Gammie gets to half court he starts real low and dribbles forward. No gloves either. No hat.

The dribble is always out in front.

I’m left standing there on the baseline without a ball. Watching these two great point guards do their thing. Working on their handle.

Gammie plays for John Jay, Edgar at Bishop Ford.

Soon as Gammie gets to the other end of the court he flings his ball in the air down to me. Full court pass, perfect. I didn’t have to move.

“Go ahead Red!” he shouts.

Follow the leader.

I start to dribble towards them.

“Get low Red,” Edgar shouts.

Dribbling fundamental.

Always stay low and keep your head up.

It starts to snow.

Fuck it, let it snow.