Nora and I stand next to each other on the court trying to defend two opponents who were trying to assist their teammates.
"Nora," I whisper. She doesn't look at me but I know she can hear me.
"What's your specialty?" I ask her.
"Basketball," she said plainly and I wanted to slap her.
"Geez, I didn't know." I roll my eyes and I see a crack of a smile on her lips before it disappears.
"I want to know what you're good at in court so I can assist you," I whisper as I block the senior trying to push past.
She was strong and really tall, I was getting tired defending.
"Power forward." Was all Nora said before running behind the senior who had managed to push past her.
I grinned as I let the annoying girl behind me to run from behind me.
I look at señora from the corner of my eye and she raises a brow, surely wondering why I'm not defending.
Defense had never been my forte. But stealing is peace of cake bitch.
I run after the senior who had gotten loose from behind me and easily run past her.
Nora was inside the three-point line making it even better for me.
The sophomore on my team had her eyes on me and I tilted my head towards Nora and hoped she got what I meant.
The sophomore runs to stand near the hoop in case the ball doesn't make it.
I shadow the opponent who's got the ball and then hit the ball from the side making her drop it. I swiftly move in front and snatch the ball and start dribbling it to where Nora was.
She got what I was doing and got into position to shoot.
I power pass the ball to her and with perfect accuracy. It lands right in the center of her palms.
For the first time today, I saw her face light up as she aims and shoots.
The balls bang on the edge of the basket, rolls and then drops in.
"Alright!" The sophomore who was standing near the basket shouts throwing her fists in the air.
"Nice pass," Nora says as she passes me.
"Nice shot," I say back to her and she gives me a smile.
The opposing team doesn't look irritated. They actually look intrigued which perks my ambition to win.
The Captain seated on the bench gives me a thumbs up.
And the game continues.
I practically run all over the court stealing the ball and passing it to my teammates. I scored fifteen points for my team. All three-pointers.
We were 24-25. The final quarter of the game.
I see the scoreboard. I see the coach checking her watch and then she says "five minutes" to a game of girls who panicked even more.
As I said, I never go under pressure. Perhaps it's because I've played so much basketball matches. My intuition had always been very sharp and on the spot.
Each player is their own person. But I could somehow guess what move they'd do next or where they would run to next.
It was to my advantage.
And I was going to use it now.
I dribbled the ball as the opposing team was blocking off my teammates. I give Nora a nod and then look at a senior from my team. She looks at me confused.
One thing about dribbling is that all eyes would be on the ball. It's movement. Where it would go next.
I pass the ball from right to left and continue dribbling. The senior whom I'd looked at earlier was still staring at me. I moved my right hand behind me and pointed my index finger out. Her brows raised, she caught my finger movement.
I did a small gameplay with my finger.
I pointed in front, then wiggled it up and down, did a right, left, back right and then I raised it and dropped.
Her eyes raised in what seemed like awe and she was trying not to smile.
The senior gave me a nod and so I began.
I dribbled the ball forward, an opponent tried blocking but I run past when the senior who had given me the signal blocks the opponent. Another comes in front and tries to grab the ball. I dribble it from left to right and keep it well away from her.
I look at Nora and she makes a move. The person close to her starts pushing her back so I won't be able to pass.
Exactly what I had guessed.
I faked a right and as guessed the girl in front moves to the left knowing I was taking it.
But that's what makes it an advantage.
Because I knew she'd guess.
And so I move to the right and dribble the ball across her and stand in position to shoot.
I had a perfect view of the basket, I raise the ball. I can see the girl whom I'd fooled coming after the ball.
The ball drops straight into the basket. In the silent gym court, the swish of the ball sounded thundering.
"ALRIGHT!" the senior teammate yells as she hits my back almost making me fall on my face.
I turn to scowl at her stupidity but then seeing her wide grin I can't help my grin as well.
"Nice gameplay." It was Nora.
I give her a wink and she rolls her eyes.
This wasn't really a victory. I hadn't gone against the real Hawkettes team. I'm sure it wouldn't have been possible to win.
But victory is still sweet and I was enjoying the look on the coach's face.
"She's like a mini-coach on the court." I heard one of the top five saying to Señora.
I felt myself swell with excitement. Coach on the court also refers to the person playing "point guard".
That's the position I'm aiming for.
"The other one is good with close-range shooting." They were talking about Nora now, I thought gleefully.
The girl really had assisted with shooting from close to the basket. It was easy passing the ball to her than anyone I'd passed to before.
The whistle brings me back to the present world. We gather and stand in line in front of the coach.
The newbies were standing to my side, while the rest of the team players were in front beside the coach.
"That's all for today's practice." Was all the coach said before she blew her whistle to dismiss us.
I was so shocked I couldn't do anything.
Not even a "well done?"
What does it take to impress this hardcore woman!?
"Drakeyer. Robinson. Learn the names of your teammates by tomorrow. Is that possible?" She was referring to our earlier conversation regarding the layup.
What did she say just now?
Nora's hand squeezed my arm but I was still trying to process what the coach had said.
The coach's expression was hard as a rock but her eyes held more emotion.
"Welcome to the team, Judith. Nora." Señora says with a smile. The rest of the members give us smiles. The senior with whom I'd planned my move gave me a pat on the back.
"It's goin ter beh interesting havin yer in the team gurl." She said with a cool accent.
I got in.
I was finally a team member of Minnesota's Hawkettes.
"If you're done processing it, mind coming with me?" Señora was being sarcastic.
I roll my eyes but follow her with Nora.
The Captain starts with introductions.
Once she's done with the teammates, we move to the top five. I straighten up when I look at their faces.
They're not snobbish nor arrogant. They seemed cool, like Señora.
"This is Reem. She plays Small forward." A girl with blonde hair and face full of freckles smiles at me. I smile back. Nora just nods.
"This one here is Rekha. Power forward."
Rekha was a tall girl, maybe 5'6 or so. She gives me a nod but I smile at her widely. And so she smiles. Nora only nods once again.
Señora introduces me to the center player, named Cassandra who was by far the tallest of the team. She was a quirky old thing who kept grinning the whole time.
And finally, I was introduced to my nemesis. The one playing the position I desired.
"And this is Tori."
Tori? Why does that name sound familiar?
And it clicks
"Aaaahhh." I didn't mean to yell but I did.
The girl before me flinches. She stares at me in surprise.
"Sorry. But you should stop talking to your brother about me." I say going straight to the point.
She raises a brow, an upturned smirk on her face.
"Actually, he's the one who talks to me about you."
"But I don't even know the dude." I sound exasperated now.
"Well, you shared a couple of classes when you were sophomores."
"You're saying me, he's been stalking me from way back then!?" I ask in utmost shock.
Her raised brow miraculously raises even further when I mention the word "stalking".
Before I could ask her why her brother was interested in me, Señora intruded in.
"Are we done?" She asks and I give her a shrug.
I can always talk to Tori now that I'm on the team.
"Finally I'll introduce myself, even though you already know who I am." She chuckles. "I'm Señora. Team Captain. I play Shooting guard." She finishes.
All this while I was listening to each name with excitement boiling within me. I had no idea how the hell Nora remains so neutral in expression.
I mean girl, we're with the Hawkettes for crying out loud.
A powerhouse female basketball team.
My enthusiasm was shown with the way I was starting at all the members and gliding from side to side.
Cassandra laughs making me turn to her.
"This one looks like a child on her first shopping spree. But she turns to a whole new person when she's on the court. Total badass." She gives me a wink.
I beam with pride.
"If we're done. Let's get going girls." Señora says as she grabs her bag and ruffles through.
The rest nods and each leave the gym.
"See you, Judith." It was that James guy's sister.
I wave and she smiles.
Nora, I realize had already made it to the door.
Oh well. Guess she's not friend material.
I pick up my bag and pull my phone out to call Ava as I leave the gym.