• “If we don’t get ninety points in five-ball-shooting, y’all are gonna run a ladder,” Coach Dill explained. I shuddered as I thought about the last time we did a ladder. It was only basketball try-outs last time, so we weren’t rushed; although, it was still hard.

    A ladder is running down the court in seven seconds tops. Then, we get fourteen second for running down-back-down. And it continues: down-back-down-back, down-back-down-back-down, down-back-down-back-down. The time goes up by seven or eight seconds each time we are done with a part of a ladder. Oh, and that isn’t where it ends. Then, we have to go back down the ladder: down-back-down-back, down-back-down, down-back, down. If we don’t finish before time runs out, we have to do it all over again. If you don’t get it, I’ll just break it down for you. It. Is. A. Lot. Of. Running.

    I really didn’t want to do a ladder, and by all the sighs and mummers people let out, I knew they didn’t want to, neither. So I yelled, along with a person or two, “We can do this, girls! We can do it!” I wasn’t that optimistic about that, but I tried to be. Every time we did a five-ball-shooting, we didn’t reach our goal. It’s pretty sad, really. We CAN do it, we just aren’t doing it.

    Five-ball-shooting is when there are three people: one’s in the middle and the other two people are, maybe, in the middle of the width of the red out-of-bounds volleyball line (the sideline one) and the sideline. The girl in the middle has the basketball and she passes it to one of the girls on the side. The girl who was in the middle, goes past the girl with the ball and runs across the court while the girl who has the ball now passes it to the other side. The girl who just passed it runs behind the person with the ball now and sprints across the court, staying wide. The girls who had the ball first, gets the ball and, has two choices depending on where they are at: if they are close enough to the basket to make a lay-up, they lay it up. But if she is still behind the three-point-line, she passes it to the girl she first passes it to and she should be able to make a lay-up. There are two girls with basketball on the other side. The girls who didn’t shoot the lay-up, go on the elbow and shoot an elbow shot. The girls who were on the other side, waiting to give the balls to the none-lay-up-shooting-girls, go off and three-line-weave it again, with the girl who shot the lay-up in the middle. The two girls who shot elbow shots, stay behind and take the other girls’ place. If you don’t get it, I’m sorry I’m a horrible explainer.

    We got ready to start the five-ball-shooting. The clock was set for five minutes. TWEET! There went the whistle and the first three girls shot down the court, passing the ball to each other. The first lay-up was made, thankfully, but the elbow shots missed. It’s okay, I thought, we are only getting started.
    The first few minutes weren’t the best minutes of our lives. Sure, everyone was giving people compliments and cheering people on, but it seemed like forever before we decided to catch up. “Come one, girls! We can do this! Come on!” I kept screaming. I would clap if someone got an elbow shot in.
    Then, it was my turn. Stepped up onto the court from the middle line and got the rebound to pass it to the girl on my right. I ran as hard as I could, thinking that I may have to lay it up. But, I didn’t and shot the elbow shot. Dang it! I yelled in my head. I had missed the shot and I was really mad at myself. Why? Because it was a darn air-ball and I tend to get mad at air-ball shots. I sighed and went to my place outside of the baseline.

    It seemed to take forever to finish and guess what we got?

    A ladder....

    Yup, a ladder. We were getting ready to run... a ladder. It’s worse than running the mile, trust me, I ran a mile last year. Not as hard as I thought, but a ladder takes a serious sprinter.

    TWEET! There went the whistle and off we went to the other side of the gym. TWEET! We ran as hard as we could again. I am a slow runner, so I get to the other side by only a second or two. Erin, one of the girls on the B-team, told to run faster, but I told her that I knew what I was doing.

    We were on our fifth sprint. Forty seconds to do it, and I was kind of tired, and by “kind of” I mean fairly tired. We ran it and I was expecting to be running a four, but guess what? Someone wasn’t running fast enough and didn’t get to the other side on time. We had to do it again, and I was really ticked off.
    I survived it, barley. And I was about done. Clara, another girl who is on A-team and is my good friend, said, “Come on, Lexis. You can do it.”

    I was breathing really hard, but I didn’t give up... yet. It turned out that we had to run ANOTHER five. I was so ticked off, I would’ve punched Coach in the face if I wouldn’t get a suspension out of it. I thought about for a little while, with my hands piled up on my head straining for air, and finally said, “No, I can’t do it.”

    “Yes, you can, Alexis,” Clara repeated.

    I shook my head no. “No, I can’t. My arms and legs are too weak....”
    Clara looked up at Coach Dill and said, “We have to run, now. Come on.” She waved for me to get back into my place in the long line of worn-out girls. I forced my legs to move and Coach blew the whistle. We ran, slower than we started out with. On the other side, when we were done, I fell along the wall and said, “I can’t do it anymore, not anymore. I can’t do it....”

    “Yes. You. Can,” Clara said between breaths.

    “No, no, no.... I can’t....”

    “Get up. It’s harder to breath when you’re sitting down,” Koryena suggested. I got up, but I still went rattling on, like an old lady, saying, “I can’t do it!” I turned to Coach Dill and screamed as load as I could, “I CAN’T DO IT COACH DILL! I CAN’T DO IT!” A few people said, “Yes you can.” Coach just sat there like he was watching a movie.

    I began to randomly say things, like I was delirious or something. “I think I’m gonna be sick. I need to go to the bathroom,” things like that.

    We were getting ready to run again, this time the four. Kim, a very nice girl and probably one of the best basketball players in the gym, came next to me. “Keep up with Kim,” Clara said. “Try to beat her, tell yourself that you are going to beat her.”

    “Yeah, Alexis. Just keep up with me,” Kim said.

    I had no choice but to follow her because we had to run again. The whole time, Kim was saying, “Come on, Lexis; two more to go. You can do it. One more, run as fast as you can, come on.” I reached my destination with a leap onto the thick, blue line. There you go, Lexis. You can do it,” Kim said, with Clara echoing her.

    I nodded this time. “I can do it. I can do it,” I kept saying. They thought I was saying the opposite and Kim said, “Yes you can!”

    “No, I’m saying I can do it!” I yelled, and I don’t know why I yelled.

    “Guys, let her breath!” Erin said.

    “No, it’s okay,” I said and I got on the blue line. Well, more like past the blue line, but it really doesn’t matter. It was the three next and I was getting to be positive about myself, until we finished the three and, then, I was “Negative Nelly” as Clara put it. “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t do it,” I said in my head and as few times out loud. Kim and Clara said, “Yes you can!”

    We ran the two, and halfway through it, I realized Cheyenne was next to me saying, “Come on, Lexis, you can do it, come on.” I ran faster when I realized the few milliseconds on the clock. I reached the other side. “One more to go,” Kim said.

    TWEET! We sprinted across the court with seven seconds going by on the clock. Cheyenne was yelling, “Come on! Come on! You can do it!” I leaped to the other side of the blue line and everyone cheered. Because I felt kind of delirious (not really, but it sure felt like it) and all, I didn’t exactly know who or what they were cheering about. I sat down, but quickly got up again remembering that we shouldn’t be sitting down while we were breathing hard. I walked to get my water bottle and took a good long drink, but I didn’t have time to drink the whole half-pint bottle because I had to go to Coach Dill to learn what plays we were practicing today.

    Later, I was pretty hyper for some crazy reason and I got over my “delirious” status. I jogged over to Coach and said, “I’m sorry for my bad sportsmanship, Coach....”

    He turned around to look at me. “What’s bad sportsmanship?” he demanded.
    “When you say you can’t do it or something....” I was still a little brain dead, to be honest. That’s all I could think of at that moment.

    “Right....” Then he went into a long lecture about good sportsmanship. And he told me how my mind had to be tougher than my body because if you think positive, you can do anything. He concluded with, “You can do it, and I know you can.” Then, he hit my back lightly and I went off to get another drink of water.

    So, in conclusion, you CAN do ANYTHING if you THINK you can do it. Yeah, I know, I said that a million times already. But, you know what? It’s true. It’s really true. And I wouldn’t have believed that if it wasn’t for Clara, Kim, and Cheyenne. They are the best friends anyone can wish for.
    Just remember, when you are in a tight situation, say, “I can do it.”