I was talking to a retired basketball coach today and one of the many topics we discussed was that the schoolyards/parks are always empty; especially in the winter time. In the summer, there’s no one in them for weeks.
I told him how we used to be in the school yard all the time; regardless of the weather.
I recall reading about Magic Johnson and how he would always be outside playing at the Main Street courts in Lansing, Michigan.
Snow, cold, wind and even rain; it didn’t matter.
Corky Van Tassell (from 16th street) and I played one on one full-court basketball in the schoolyard one Sunday afternoon in the pouring rain! Our glasses were fogged up and covered with water. How did we see? Our sneakers were soaked from running through the countless puddles on the concrete. Our socks, well let’s just say they were hung over the radiator for hours afterwards.
When it was cold or it snowed, we wore gloves, layered ourselves with t-shirts and sweatshirts and still was able to get off our jump-shots. We wore long johns under our jeans.
We played at night when it was even colder. No lights, no cops chasing us out and of course, we had a lof of fun.
I remember shovelling snow with Edgar Dela-Rosa and Gammy.
Standing against the red-brick Church under the middle court wall against the part that came out a little bit. You thought it was blocking the wind. You blew on your hands, put them in your pockets or had the finger-less gloves. You jumped up and down to stay warm, you wore a hat or you even rocked some ear muffs.
I remember one night there must’ve been about 15 of us in the yard and in between games we’d sip Wild Irish Rose.
If you were one of the fortunate ones and were dating someone at the time, you were able to gain some ‘body-heat’ by snuggling up to the one you loved in between games.
The ball would be frozen solid; difficult to shoot so you made a few extra passes and try to get the closest shot to the goal.
So tell me, why are the basketball courts empty in the winter time?
Do kids still play ball outside when it’s cold?
It’s currently 25 degrees and I have an itch to grab my basketball and head out to the schoolyard.