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Middle School Mindset

Shaun Davis '23

When the Saint Thomas Academy 6th grade basketball team lost its final game against Nativity in the semi-finals, it forced me to reflect on all the laughs, shouts, and memories made throughout the year: Tommy's pre-practice Fortnite matches; Alister wearing his hood up during practice; Ben running down and back “for fun.” Although the team was full of these goofy, light-hearted conversations and jokes, we made tremendous progress and growth.

The smell of popcorn and the butter stains on my hoodie only added to the intensity of our last game as the crowd roared and cheered for our victory. Earlier that game while I was sitting down explaining the plays to Tommy, his friend from class came to the bench with bags of popcorn. He tripped and fell and the popcorn went all over me and Tommy. In disbelief, I quickly started to clean up the popcorn mess. Tommy, however, had other plans. He made a bowl out of his shirt, shoveling in as much popcorn as he could before I told him to stop. 

It is true, the actions of a middle schooler cannot be understood.

With much of my time after class spent with my 6th grade basketball team, one practice I found myself wondering if I too was as goofy and hyper as the boys on my team. We were stretching when I heard the rattling of small rocks coming from the line of boys. I walked around, and as I got closer to Nick, I heard it get louder. I asked, “Hey buddy, whatcha got in your pocket?” He pulled out his “practice candy” showing me his stash of Nerds, Swedish Fish, and gum wrappers. Not knowing what to do, I just smiled. 

At the next practice, he had a bag of white-powdered doughnuts. He offered me one; I declined, telling him he could eat one now but he should put them away during practice. He nodded and finished his doughnut. Minutes later, when we had started drills, I could see he had white powder all over his face. I screamed at him, and as all of the other players ran down the court, he stood still. He opened his mouth and through his smile I could see two mini-doughnuts.

I figured our first real game would prompt maximum focus. This was not the case. Nick had his face stuffed with powdered doughnuts again, and Tommy was playing NLE Choppa on the bench all throughout the game. Rather than shooting the ball, the boys spent more time waving to their parents on the sideline. At times, it seemed the boys had forgotten the other team was even there. 

Things were different from how I expected, but the Saint Thomas Academy 6th graders prevailed and we won our first game. We would go on to post a 6-4 record, greatly exceeding my expectations. No matter how crazy they made me, I loved this team and enjoyed every minute of this wild season.