Jake Mendel | On Track: Sometimes perseverance doesn't always pay off
I assume that most Berkshire County residents woke up in the same mood as I did on Thursday morning. Not surprised, but annoyed, that on April 16, we were greeted with snow on the ground.
I refuse to say "wait five minutes and the weather will change" (yes, I know that still technically counts), but in my 25 years, I've never gotten a pulse of Berkshire County weather.
I've played baseball games in the snow and I've worn two sweatshirts to cover a late-fall football game that reached a temperature of 80 degrees.
While I haven't been able to beat the weather, it most certainly doesn't mean I haven't tried.
When I was a junior in high school my friends and I loved to go to Egremont Elementary School to play basketball. The court featured solid rims, straight hoops and a pretty cool map of the United States on the court. If you could drill a shot from Kansas, you're pretty much a baller. Much like Wahconah Park, hooping at Egremont required a sun delay around 7 p.m. when you couldn't see the basket.
It was a pretty rough March that featured plenty of snow, but my friends and I wanted to go out and do something. It must've been 40 degrees outside, which after months of temperatures in the teens, felt pretty awesome. Our goal was to drive over to Egremont and run some two-vs.-two hoop, which was the norm with everyone's unique work schedule.
We pulled into the parking lot and roughly a foot of snow was on the court and the surrounding field.
The thing about being a kid, especially a teenager, is that anyone can tell you something is a bad idea, but most of the time you need to prove it is a bad idea, instead of taking the advice.
I could even go back in time and tell myself that trying to shovel out the court in order to take some shots was a bad idea, but I would probably still tell myself I have no idea what I am talking about and just start shoveling.
After about ten minutes of deliberating, with the key point being "well, what else are we going to do with our day?" we decided that we would shovel half the court and at least shoot around a bit. As someone "flexing" in a Honda Civic, I kept a shovel in my car since I was used to getting stuck at my friend's houses, who all seemed to live either on a hill or in the woods.
My friends, on the other hand, leaped into a 1998 Buick Regal LS named Betty, named after Betty White, of course (shout out Bubba), and ventured to grab shovels from a friend's house. They didn't get halfway down the street before I realized this was an absolutely awful idea. It wasn't a foot of snow I was trying to move, but a foot of slush that has been packed down for roughly two weeks.
It didn't stop me from chipping away at the iceberg.
With the four of us, we got roughly a third of the court cleared before we decided it was enough and we would just work on our mid-range shooting. I planted my shovel into the near by snowbank in relief that we we're finally done.
As kids, we didn't often go hoop at local indoor facilities. Not only were they usually packed with people, but the fee to get in was roughly the equivalent of five-to-seven cans of "Arnold Palmer" (half lemonade half ice tea) and I don't think I need to explain which one a group of teenagers would value more.
We took to the court and the outing lasted just one dribble, when the ball slid on the ice and landed in a puddle. While we ignored all the obvious warning signs, the splat of the ball landing in the puddle was heard loud and clear — we decided to call it quits.
As someone who has always enjoyed walking to his destination, I am used to seeing kids still trying to make it out to the court because "it is just sprinkling out," before seeing them stamped home in a storm. In fact, the other day I saw some local kids trying to go out and scooter in a storm, before retreating inside.
The one thing we all had in common is that I am confident there were people all telling us it was a bad idea, but it didn't stop us.
I still remember the sound the ball made when hitting the puddle, but I also remember the disappointing silence of us all heading to our cars. We were all thinking the same thing... why on earth did we spend all this time when we knew this was the outcome?
Of course, these questionable experiences help us grow and learn... but sometimes we end up just headed home embarrassed, before waking up with a cold the next day.
Perseverance and effort don't always pay off, sometimes it just gets you a soggy basketball.
Until next week, stay safe and on track.
Jake Mendel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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