Long Beach, Calif- AAU Basketball can be unforgiving at times. Especially being young and learning to deal with trash-talking parents, slippery floors and the physical elements of the game.
When big games become emotional and out of control becoming a teammate is the most valued asset.
During halftime of the Winter Is Coming Tournament at Cabrillo high school, 8-year-old bout That Basketball guard Pitar Marcovich was beside himself on the bench. Tears streamed down his face and the frustration of being slapped, grabbed and taunted was beginning to take its toll. That’s when his teammate Delonte “Buzzy” Foley came to his aid.
Foley took his arm around Marcovich whose face had turned red and talked to him. The tears subsided and Marcovich became filled with confidence. Foley had created a bond that turned sadness into excitement and anger into energy.
Although Foley did not play in the game his presence was felt.
With bTB trailing Inland Force 19-15 with less then five minutes left, the tables began to turn. The scrappy group dressed in green began to meet the Inland Force’s physicality.
Foley wanted to go out and help his team finish the game. Instead bTB whose team consisted of six, seven and eight year olds had to carve out their own path. The same group that started the game would finish it, win or lose.
bTB turned the corner but needed one more shot to secure momentum for good. It was Marcovich’s turn to leave his signature.
With two defenders running in his face, Marcovich’s eyes were focused squarely on the basket. With one flick of the wrist, the ball left his hands and sailed crisply through the net.
Marcovich had learned the biggest lesson the game of basketball has to offer: how to tackle adversity. He had done it. Marcovich took all the negative emotions he had experienced and dug deep for his team. On the other end was Buzzy, his hype man and motivator who cheered and yelled and met his skinny guard with a big hug.
Marcovich made the big shot and Buzzy showed the kind of leadership needed to help an organization succeed. Passion, character, love and sacrifice. Qualities that can be hard to come by and let alone instilled in this energetic child who had been on this team for two days.
Buzzy played in the afternoon’s last game and bout That Basketball would win both the 9/U and 10/U championship. Although the two MVP trophies that were distributed were not given to him, the only thing Buzzy cared about was his team’s winning. His team’s success became his success.
Written by Ethan Hanson