On a nice sunny evening here in the Bay Area, my summer basketball team open it's league season tonight with a victory. Tonight's game signaled a changing of the guard. A good number of my regular friends and teammates for much of the past 6 years / seasons were all absent. The majority of the guys who chose not to play are over 30 years old with family obligation so this was understandable.
In the place of my friends were a stable of young bucks. Tonight we had ten players present with nine out of the ten being under 30 years old. The only person over 30? ME! I originally wasn't going to play as most of my older friends were not playing. However, at the behest of one of my other teammates (whom I've played with since 2007), I decided to assume "player / coach" duties for the team.
I wasn't planning to play too much (if at all) this season and just remain a coach. Alas, the opportunity to squeeze in a few minutes proved too much of a temptation tonight. We were able to get a lead and I felt I could squeeze in a few minutes (about 15 or so) without affecting the outcome of the game too much. Overall, all the young bucks played about 20 to 25 minutes overall which was good. I hadn't seen them play much so it was good to get a feel of the team.
By playing in my team's game tonight, I have officially participated in this particular basketball league for 20 years / seasons. I first played in this league during the Summer of 1992. In total, I have played in 19 seasons with one season where I didn't play at all due to injury. I did not realize this until I got home tonight from the game.
In thinking about my participation in this league, I've seen this league grow and play in many different gyms through the years.
My first season in the league, there were only two divisions ("A - Competitive" and "B - Non Competitive") . The "A" league were primarily men while the "B" league had a mix of men, boys, women and girls. There were around 20 teams total (10 in each league) in 1992. As the league grew in the next 20 years, more men's divisions were added ("A - Platinum, "BB - Gold", "B - Silver", "C- Bronze") along with divisions for women and youths. This season, there is almost 70 total teams.
While the league has grown, it has also played in many different facilities over the years, each with their own quirks and charm.
Salvation Army 1992 to 1994 (SF Chinatown) - The gym was not regulation. The court had decent length but the 3 point line was cut off in the corners. Despite the size of the gym, "A" league games were still played in there. There was plenty of space for fans as well and it made for a great atmosphere for games. I played in my first CCU championship game here in 1994 (we lost).
Francisco Middle School 1992 to 1994 (SF North Beach) - I don't quite know if the court was high school regulation but it was pretty close. It was definitely longer and wider than Salvation Army so real basketball could be played. My best memory from this gym was when one of my then teammates hit a buzzer beating three pointer to win a game for us (45-43).
Cameron House 1994 (SF Chinatown) - Cameron House is a historic place in Chinatown. On the site of Cameron House, there are a couple of basketball courts, one downstairs and another upstairs. So while there is technically a ceiling to the lower basketball court, the court is basically outdoors as there is nothing to seal off the elements (wind / rain / etc). During 1994, the basketball league was forced to move some games to Cameron House. It was an interesting experience as there is a staircase exposed plus the court was slippery.
Washington High School 1995 (SF) - We only played one season at Washington and I don't recall anything super memorable from any of the games. The only challenge in playing at Washington was that the league was playing games side by side on two courts. Whistles from the other court could stop play on the other court.
Star Of The Sea 1995 (SF) - Like Washington, we only played one season here. Nothing particularly memorable except it was good to play on a court that I coached and officiated so many CYO games over the years.
Ben Franklin Middle School 1996 - 2004 (SF) - With two courts, Ben Franklin ably served the summer basketball league for 8 years. As a public middle school, the courts weren't particular well maintained. The courts weren't high school regulation as well but it was better than Salvation Army. I have too many memories over the years to easily share here. I was sad when the summer basketball league was forced to move away from Ben Franklin after the summer of 2004.
El Camino High School 2004 - Present (SSF) - El Camino High is like Ben Franklin with two courts. However, the courts are high school regulation and well maintained. This is easily the best facility the league has had in the years I have played. Again, there are too many memories that I can easily share here.
Lincoln High School 2005 / Holy Trinity Church 2010 - Present (SF) - A couple of other courts that were used that I don't have a lot of experience with. But the courts are regulation and the facilities are very nice.
Overall, the past 20 years / seasons have certainly gone by fast. I certainly did not remember it was my 20th year when I arrived at the gym tonight I don't know what the future holds for me in terms of playing in this particular basketball league. However, I am certainly thankful and grateful to my friends and other teammates that have allowed me to play with them over the years. Win or lose, it has always been fun. Here's to 20 more years!!!!