2004-08-13

Coolidge

Just remembering Coolidge Field in Natick, MA. This was the prime basketball location in town. Even before we lived down the street from it, we would ride a good ways to hoop there. I guess I played there from age 14 to 18, and occasional games on return trips to Mass.

Coolidge was initially attractive for its consistent surface (green), actual painted three point lines, forgiving backboards and rims, and occasional availability of lights (though this diminished over time). Its major drawback was the collection of water under the baskets after rain. This could be swept away, if a broom was available. In the winter, you brought shovels.

In the end, it was the competition that made it a worthwhile trip. Besides my bros, the regulars included Devon Swears, Al Balding, Mo Liquor, Big Country, and Bruce Seals, star of Natick, and later, Ashland, high school, and a Division I college player at Manhattan U. in the MAC.

Bruce, at age 15, was 6' 5", 200-something. He could break any number of defenders past the three point line with a single dribble between his legs on his way to a dunk. He especially liked driving straight down the lane, stepping on your foot, and rising high to dunk over you as you were pinning to the ground. Grabbing your head with his legs as he hung over you was not an uncommon occurrence.

Bruce was pretty dominant, but I like to think I knew his game as well as anyone, and defended him admirably. Teamed up with Jeremy plus Carl or any other of the regulars, it was the utmost honor to outlast his teams, which were always one-dimentional in deference to his talent, in a game of three-on-three. Truly, I much preferred being on the less-talented team, as I am a unfailing believer in the underdog.

Jeremy and I were guaranteed to score if the shot immediately followed a broken play, tip, block, or any other less-than-optimal circumstance. If the shot looked nasty going up, it would most certainly fall. Jeremy ruled the perimeter, I slashed and drove, floated, and flipped it in, Carl patrolled the paint.

The regulars were there every day for at least four hours. Always solid competition. When the occasional outsider would show up, especially twenty- and thirty-somethings that thought they could beat the 12- and 17- year olds, we'd play them hard and break their hearts on a fading-out-of-bounds bomb over both defenders from the corner as only traces of sunlight remained.

At 15 and 5' 7", I dunked the basketball for the first time at Coolidge. Cycling was to thank for my hops at the time. Later, I dunked over Bruce Seals for my first and last ever dunk in an actual game. No heads were grabbed on that occasion.

We played at Johnson and Natick High before, and Loring and Bowditch after, and grandpa's driveway always, but Coolidge, while it lasted, was hoop heaven for sure.

Jeremy can fill in some other details, I'm sure. I've overlooked some characters: Gavin and his rival from across the street, Wells, and more. On 04.22.1999, one month before his seventeenth birthday, Jeremy documented this and more in the work-in-progress called Court Surfing. It remains unfinished to this day.

4 comments:

EggNogg said...

Finish It!

Jeremy said...

If I ever could have found such fine words as Joshua's then perhaps I would have finished it. In the meantime, Joshua has exceeded me in creating what I consider to be the most entertaining post on this blog.

Well done.

Jeremy said...

I also want to say that Try Avoidance has now become the starla.org of blogs. When the time comes each day to check all of the blogs I just go to Try Avoidance and use it is as portal to everything else. Brilliant. I bet you invented MP3s, too.

Joshua Provost said...

Entertaining, but only to us. This is some seriously inside information.