The Heroes

by swampnut

All who have played high school basketball will be able to see themselves in this poem.

A little history: Basketball was created in 1891 by a Canadian born PE teacher. The first baskets were peach baskets nailed to a railing of the Massachusetts gym in which Mr. James Naismith coached. The first balls were soccer style balls and the first teams were made up of nine players each.

The first set of rules consisted of just thirteen rules.
One of the rules which I found very interesting was: "If either side make three consecutive fouls it shall count as a goal for the opponents". another very different rule (from today's game) was rule number three: "A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man running at good speed."

The game has grown tremendously since those early simple beginnings. Today, almost every public high school in America has a basketball team. YMCA's and Boy's Clubs have basketball leagues as do city recreation departments and even many churches.

This poem is about being a coach or player in this great American game.

(I wrote this poem many years ago after having coached a couple of years of high school basketball in the US state of Georgia and in the country of Nigeria.Hope you enjoy it!)


The new coach stood in coat and tie,

The boys in the hall emotions strung high.


Together they awaited the announcer's call,

Trembling with excitement they proudly stood tall.


Finally the call and roar of cheers,

Faithfully they answered hiding their fears.


Every self-doubt hid with bravado and bluff,

Each of them wondered had they worked hard enough?


As they run through their lay-ups and shoot free throws,

Nervousness dies and anticipation grows.


Stuck alone in the open clipboard in hand,

Stands the nervous young coach their number one fan.


Has he forgotten anything-- is their strategy sound?

Heaven only knows but soon truth will be found.


The whistle blows and play begins,

Tiny flaws in strategy coach quickly mends.


Action ebbs and flows in a tense ballet,

All on the line it's won with a masterful play.


Players and coach are praised high and low,

Passing into the night they leave the gym in a glow.


And the good thing about it as memories dim,

All will be heroes that night in the gym.


Clint Bowman

21 November 1995

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Updated: 12/27/2015, swampnut
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