How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium

Matt De La Pena

Read time: about 2 minutes

This particular story is from the collection ‘Flying Lessons and Other Stories’ from diverse authors compiled and edited by Ellen Oh. I had requested this book off Netgalley at random and I am glad I began reading it for 365stories. This particular book gives voice to the oppressed/minority that’s hard hitting.

The first story is called ‘How to Transform an Everyday, Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium’ by Matt De La Pena.

As the title suggests it is a story of self-learning but not really a boring self-help fiction. The story begins with a whiff of freedom.

The voice says:

It’s finally summer.

Go ahead, take a deep breath. You’re free.

There are folks in this world who live to mark up a fat World History textbook with an arsenal of colored highlighters. You’re not one of them.

It is the story of a boy who is good at academics. He could easily be the among the top two in this class but his heart follows the basketball. He wishes to be a great player. Basketball is all he can ever think of. So he decides to join the gym near his dad’s workplace where they play basketball, hoping he would make it into the team someday. But all they ever let him do is work outside the court. Slowly he makes his way into the team with a lot of hard work and dedication that comes with a frustrated mind.

During the journey the realises the importance of words that are not said. There are people who do not talk but say a lot with their silence that helps you in self-realisation.

Maybe words aren’t what’s important. Maybe words would just steal away your freedom to think for yourself.

This is a beautiful story about things that push you to do your best even though they are not very apparent. There also a slight racism involved that is inflicted upon him. The constant voice talks to you in first person making you incapable of dodging the bullet had you wanted to. It is talking to you about everything you are and everything you did uncensored like the voice inside your head. The author has an authoritative lead voice that is seen throughout the story. I am looking forward to reading more from the author.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH