Sneakers over heels

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Chapter 36

The first thing I notice as soon as I enter the school gym was that something was wrong. The air was tense and the girls looked troubled.

We were asked to meet up for morning practise at exactly 8. Am. It was 7.45 am right now and usually I'd be the first. But not today. Everyone were present and in a heated conversation with coach.

I drop my bag by the bleachers and walk up to the rest of them. The first person to look at me was Nora and the look on her face made my insides do a flip flop. A look of sympathy.

Cassy gives me a worried expression next and even Senora looked unsettled.

The day after was The day. The finals of the summer league. The day we've all been waiting for. What we have been trying so hard for. So why does everyone look restless and not excited?

"What's up?" I ask as I push my hands into my track bottom pockets. I jiggle back and forth on my heels waiting for a reply. None of the girls look at me and everyone's eyes were elsewhere.

I frown as I stop moving and am about to ask what's wrong and what's with the annoying guilty faces when Coach clears her throat. I stare up at the woman and her steel eyes.

"I'm sorry Drakeyer but you've been pulled out."

"Pulled out?" I ask confused.

"You will not be playing in the finals." Was her response to my question. A cold reply that made me stop blinking.


"But... I," I pulled out my hands and ran one through my hair pulling off the messy bun. "I don't understand. Why coach?"

"You know exactly why I'm doing this."

"No I don't understand!" I raise my voice and coach raises a brow. "I played bad just one time coach. Just one match. Why am I being punished?"

"Your bad playing almost cost us a game Drakeyer. We could have lost and all our efforts would have gone to waste because one person could not concentrate and play. You know very well the rules of the Hawkettes. Only the best." Her voice was so cold and devoid of any emotion. I didn't feel like crying. No. I felt furious. I had been one of the reason the Hawkettes made it this far. How could she criticize me so openly?

"But Coach, we need a point guard." Senora butts in. I don't have the strength to give her an appreciative smile. I'm busy glaring at the floor in anger.

Coach remains quiet for some time as she goes into deep thinking mode. The others just stand still waiting for this uncomfortable meeting to end and for practice to start. I clench and unclench my fists trying to keep my calm.

"I'll play." A very familiar voice comes in. I look up and find it's Tori. She wasn't in her cast anymore. She had gotten it removed and only had a bandage around her lower leg. "I can play coach." Tori repeats affirmly holding her ground. "I know I haven't been playing recently but I can get in shape with practice. Let me do it."

Senora who had been silent nods and so does the other seniors. Coach Harlot looks away unsure.

"Coach. Please." Tori was being desperate now. "I wouldn't be pleading if we had another choice. But we don't. This is the finals. I have to!"

Ah. Tori wasn't doing it for herself but for her friends to get into college with a scholarship.

"Think about your future Howell" Coach who had been silent all along snapped making everyone stop breathing. "I do not want to see you ruining your future career bacause of this one match. What if you lose your footing in this final game?"

"Then I would be proud in being so. I would try my best to lead the team. I don't care if I'm unable to play anymore. I don't even want to-"

"Tori!" Senora yells and Tori shuts before she ends up saying something regrettable. Coach stares at Tori then at Senora wondering what it is that these two were covering up.

I know very well. Tori was about to say she didn't want to have a future in basketball.

I couldn't bear to listen to all of this any longer. My insides burned me, screaming at me to take a step forward. My mind yelled at me to stop being a loser and be the Judith I once was.

"Let's start with the warm ups first and Sen-" Coach Harlot was interrupted. By me.

"I want to play the next match." My words cut through everyone's attention. The coach stops her talking and turns to look at me and so does my teammates. Señora looks upset and regretful.

"Judy..." Señora starts but then doesn't continue because she doesn't know what to say.

"You haven't played well in the last few matches. We barely made it. We can't afford to lose this match Judith. It's the finals and we're betting our futures on it." Cassy sighs with a sad expression. I know she didn't mean the words she had just spoken. Cassy has always believed in me and I wasn't going to let her down.

The other seniors look at each other not able to look me in the eye. Even Nora looked unsure.

"No." I stood my ground, clenching my fists tight. I am not going to just sit back. I can't afford to lose my place in team. I am not a player who accepts defeat. I knew this was going to happen when I confronted them all.

I was willing to accept all harsh words. I deserve it with the way I've been acting all these days.

But not anymore.

"I am not a girl who accepts failure. I am Judith Drakeyer of the Hawkettes. I am their power guard and I am going to lead them to victory."

I stood firmly not batting an eye as I glared at them all with a fire burning inside of me. No way in hell am I giving my place as point guard to anyone. Even If it's Tori

Señora lets out a breath as she looks at me directly. She drops her clenched hands loosely to her sides.

Cassy, Kaera, Nora, and the rest of them all mirror her actions.

"I will prove to you that I am not a weak player. I will play the finals like my life is on the line. The seniors will not graduate as failures. Mark my words."

Where the fuck am I getting all this confidence from?

Everyone remains silent but Cassy speaks up for the rest of them in a breathless tone.

"Tell me if I'm weird but I see us winning the Summer league with Judy by our side."

Cassy who had been on the other side walked over and stood beside me. Nora joined and then Senora and Rekha and Reem. I look at Tori waiting for a fight but all I find is her smiling at me encouragingly. And she too joins my side.

My girls were with me.

And we all have a stare down with Coach Harlot.

Coach remains tight lipped for a mere second and then she lets out a deep sigh shaking her head at the lot of us.

"I can't believe you girls. Howell you are not playing even if only one girl is standing. Get to practice now everyone!" She hollers and everyone runs to do warm ups. Except me. I stood glued to the spot waiting for some sort of instruction.

"Go start running and get in some baskets before joining the practice match." Coach orders and she looks at the other girls. My eyes sparkle with excitement as I give a hard nod and turn around to run out into the track field for a morning run.

"We're counting on you Drakeyer."

The words weren't loud but it was loud and clear enough for me to smile and sprint out to get my bearings together.

At approximately four hours Coach Harlot blew her whistle to call an end to the practice. We all stopped our game of "who gets the most basket" and run up to coach who was waiting for us.

"We won't be having any practice tomorrow. Every one of you are to get a good rest. No unwanted extra practices and training. There's is nothing more we could do. We have practiced to our utmost and now we are ready to take on the final stage."

Coach was never the type for words. She spoke less but her training was very well planned and executed. She was the best coach WestView could find and she lived up to that expectation.

As we stood in front of the Coach I could feel the sparks prick my back. The excitement and adrenaline rushing coursing through my body. I take a peek at the rest and find the seniors gazing at the Coach with a look of nostalgia.

That's right. This is their final match. And they will leave the team to sit for their exams and would graduate soon. This was a precious moment for them and I'm sure Coach Harlot meant a lot for them even though she was strict and Spartan.

"There is nothing more to do. All we have to do is hold our heads high, enter the game and walk out with our heads still held high no matter the results." For a moment her expression changed to warmth as she looked at us all. But then it was back to her stony expression. If I hadn't been staring at her face I would have surely kissed a rare sight. "You girls be proud for where you are standing. You have all given your best and I expect no less on the final game. I know you girls can pull it off. The Hawkettes are strong. The Hawkettes are invincible. And the Hawkettes are a group of United girls who accomplish miracles."

I held the tears back. But Rekha couldn't. Her cries were silent but it made us all stand tall and proud. Everyone gripped onto one another's shoulder. I wasn't tall enough to grip Nora's shoulder and so I gripped her back with all the strength I could muster and she held on to my shoulder tight and we all screamed in unison,

"We are the Hawkettes!"

I finish with the planks and I start on the pushups. It's been three hours since everyone had left. I left as well and then crept back to the gym for some personal training. I needed to get back in shape. After Coach's speech every muscle in my body was crying for a workout. And so for three hours straight I've been training my body, honing my skills and polishing my shooting.

I finish the pushups and wipe my face in the towel. Panting I bend in two gripping my knees to get a breather. My water bottle was empty and I didn't want to take a trip to the taps to fill it up.

"Alright Judith. Let's do some shooting now."

I fetch the ball and twirl it around my finger as I make way to the hoop. I dribble the ball and then stand in position to shoot. I make a shot and ball whizzed through the air and fell into the basket without making a single noise.

Perfect shot.

"Finally. I'm getting into the game"

"I knew it! I so fucking knew she'd be here." I had been so occupied with my training that I hadn't realised the door opening behind me. Cassy's loud voice takes me by surprise and I slip on the ball and drop to the ground. Scrambling to my feet ignoring Cassy's laugh and Nora's snort I find it's not just the two of them but the entire top five of the Hawkettes present.

"What are you guys doing here?" I ask confused. Tori who was with the crowd rolls her eyes at me and scoffs.

"We can't come in for some extra practice?" She questions. Not rudely but with a hint of tease in her tone.

Senora walks up to me closely followed by the rest of the girls. "I can't believe you." She remarks with a sigh. I only grin at her to which she chuckles.

"I gave a big display of winning the finals with my hotshot words. I gotta train this body to keep that end of the bargain of getting you girls to victory." I say with a sashaying of my hip.

"Girl, we are all in this together. Stop trying to steal the spotlight every time." Rekha jokes as she slaps my shoulder. The rest of them chuckle and I join in.

"Now then. Shall we get to our warmups?" Senora asks and we all nod vigorously and the rest of the girl jog over to the bleachers to drop their bags and get changed.

I grip the ball tight as I stare at my girls and the funny bickering duo, aka, Tori and Cassy with a smile. Coach had warned us, no more practice and yet here we are.

I'm grateful for having met these girls who were willing to still let me play after how I'd been lately.

"Enough looking as if you're about to cry. May I have the ball?" Nora who was the first to get changed asked me extending her hand for the ball.

She's doing this on purpose. Because she knows very well I hate handing over the ball

"Come and get it." I run in the opposite direction as I dribble the ball away from her and with a mischievous smile she runs after me to get the ball.

We lose track of time and don't realise the sun had already set. A couple of hours later a group of worried sick parents barged into our gym taking us all by surprise. Every one of them had assumed their daughters had been kidnapped or went missing until Nora's father had contacted my dad and dad had made an assumption that we'd all be at the school gym.

It was past 10 p.m and thus the panicked parents scolding their daughters for being irresponsible.

We pack up and leave the gym after having a good laugh between ourselves for our parents reactions and then we all left, closing the gym doors behind us.

The result of our late night practice was every single one of us missing half the classes the next day.

A/N: This is a very special chapter to me. While writing the chap, it reminded me of my girls and my school days.

Hope you all like the chapter as much as I do ❤️


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