Basketball, of course
Shared :

Mark Wen 



Nov. 27th 2007, one of the main defining moments in my life. The score was 34 to 36, with few seconds left on the clock. I stepped into the free throw line and held my breath as I learnt from all the reading from sports magazines. Eyes on the basket, squared shoulders, bent knees…everything was in line and it was the perfect time for thousands of practice shots to pay off. Then there came the sweat dripping down from my forehead into my eyes, the doubt following the stiffness of tired muscles. First shot was let fly, flat-arc and rimed out. Opposing crowd was exhilarated and I already felt tears in my eyes. Game over. And yes this was merely a tournament game between classes that happened every semester at Huamei, not the NBA finals. But that was how much basketball meant to me.


Growing up in a remote small town in Guizhou province, there was never enough challenge for me on the court. I was once determined to become one of the players that help Yao Ming bring the Chinese national team to another level. During my time at Huamei, I would wake up at six to train in the morning with couple of mates (whom I dragged out of bed of course), and the classes usually would not start until eight o’clock. We played almost every single day, no matter how hot and humid it was out there. Back then, it was really the only thing that got me out of my bed at any given day.


I played intramural basketball throughout my undergraduate and graduate study. As matter of fact, basketball is still playing a crucial part of my life. It is the only reason I that I train and eat mindfully every day, and fight through injuries after injuries over all these years. Something has been missing, however. That emotional component, and the excitement involved in the game gradually faded, ever since I left Huamei. I found myself looking over my shoulder occasionally in my down time (i.e. when shots just do not fall) and could not find the same consolation as I did before. A strange hollowness struck me from time to time.


When I sat down today and looked through pictures of old times, I found out why I always felt focused and whole-hearted; why I always fell down but bounced back stronger; why life was always enjoyable and full of surprises; why I had little management or leadership skills but still became president of the student council. I knew those time were good. But I only came to full realization of how good they were seeing myself from this picture. There I was, standing tall, with my dearest friends/teammates /classmates, preparing to beat the opposing class. And that time we did manage the job.


The thought process was troublesome, though: the fact that my eyes were on the ball the entire time, literally and figuratively, when all this time I just indulged myself in the supports and love from everyone around me, boys and girls, teachers and dormitory managers. They were there every single time when I needed them. They brought me the courage and poise to face the overwhelming adversity that I had to endure. I got the guidance needed to progress into future academic career. But more importantly, I was happy.


Having the opportunity to become a teacher myself and help students navigate through challenges in life deepened my understanding of a good education. Teachers cared much more than just students’ performance in standardized test. The sense of guidance, companionship and respect were always there. We also got in troubles just like every other dumb teenager doing their experiments in an effort to understand the wild world. Students had the luxurious freedom to pursue whatever they want to do with their individuality within a safe playground. In Huamei, the whole process towards maturity as an adult was finished with smooth sensation and heart-felt warming aftertaste.


Good luck Huamei in the route of becoming one of the most prestige schools in China. Fellow students: understand how lucky you are, cherish everyone around you and exploit every second of your time in the family of Huamei.


(The author, Fang(Mark) wen, was a member of Class 2008 and is currently in pursuit of a PhD degree in environmental chemistry at Monash University in Australia.) 

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