Some of you may know that I’ve been spending a lot of my post-college time coaching rowing. It doesn’t exactly pay well, but there’s something so rewarding about watching girls that you’ve trained win a race. What I haven’t written about is that I also coach for a middle school basketball team.
Growing up, I lived in a very mixed neighborhood. I personally lived in a nice, seven-bedroom colonial style home. But I can also remember going over to friends’ houses after school and seeing that some of them lived in a one-bedroom apartments. That some of them had only one parent there, that some lived with their grandparents because they didn’t know where their parents were. Some of their parents were in jail.
When I was in eighth grade my parents moved to another neighborhood. The one bedroom apartments were replaced with huge houses with manicured lawns, Audis in the driveway. I wasn’t used to this kind of life at all, and I was teased endlessly for the first few months for being “ghetto”. I was always a little more feisty, a bit more aggressive, and I’d like to think that that was from being raised in the first town.
After college I was asked to help coach for my old high school. We’ve never had problems with money; in fact, we’re looking into buying brand new Vespoli V1s for the spring. We never struggle to figure out how to get money to pay for a race, and the girls have been begging to get North Face jackets embroidered with our team name.
One of my childhood best friends also asked me to help coach basketball for my first town, for the middle school that I attended. I hadn’t been back in the school since I attended and so it was a major shock to return there. Just walking through the first day I saw two kids shoving each other into lockers, screaming in Spanish. We have a bunch of girls who have never really had any training in basketball, girls that we’re teaching simple layups to. Girls that we’re teaching the positions to. And the money? It’s nonexistent. When my friend and I pulled out the boxes of uniforms we realized that they were the same uniforms that we had worn. I pulled out number 20, she pulled out number 10. Our very own uniforms from middle school. We both looked at each other in shock- these girls had not had new uniforms since we were in middle school, and even when we got them they had been passed down. What makes this more painful is that the boys basketball team has had two new sets of uniforms in the past five years.
We pulled them all out one by one, saw shirts missing numbers, ripped sleeves, shorts missing elastic waistbands. And then the worst of it, shorts with bloodstains on them in the crotch. I’ve tried everything I could. I’ve been bleaching the white uniforms, sewing in new elastic and sewing rips, and gluing on numbers. Most of it is unrepairable.
We’ve gone to the school begging for money for new uniforms, and they told us that we only have the remaining money (about five-hundred dollars) as a budget. I’ve spent the past few days calling companies for quotes, telling them about the situation. Everything is above five-hundred, everything will end up with me calling alumni and begging for money or planning multiple fundraisers.
On the upside, the basketball girls are hilarious. The other day I went for a run at the boathouse before meeting them at the school gym, and I came in wearing spandex shorts. One of the girls whistled at me and says “Coach Caitlyn! You all skinny and stuff but you got a BOOOOTAY!” They’ve also been trying to teach me the Soulja Boy dance, telling me that “You move like a white girl.” Girls? I am a white girl.
These are the uniform designs that I’ve come up with. Unfortunately they are super expensive and I’m going to have to bake lots of cookies and whoopie pies to ever be able to afford them.