The Perfect Rebound

Annemarie - Seattle, Washington
Entered on December 5, 2011
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I believe in basketball and the power of the perfect rebound. Have I ever played basketball? No. Am I likely ever to play? Most assuredly not. I am significantly physically disabled by cerebral palsy, and my motorized chair and I are more than happy in our courtside position. This is not to say that I wouldn’t enjoy being part of the action on the court, but I’m perfectly happy with my lot in life. Watching courtside has, however, helped me to understand why my contentedness is remarked upon and why I so admire resilience.

Six years ago, when I entered college, I would not have told you that my favorite sport was basketball. Yet, I soon found myself best friends with a D1 women’s basketball player. So, after returning from a semester’s medical leave my sophomore year to have a brain tumor removed, I decided to go to my friend’s games and to learn the game. Soon, I was going to every game: women’s and men’s. And then I saw it. The perfect rebound. As I was watching courtside at a men’s game, the crowd and I let out a dejected “ooh” as one of our shots bounced off the rim, but then one of our players seemed to levitate out of the melee beneath the basket, effortlessly pluck the ball out of the air, return to earth, and sink the ball with an easy little toss. The atmosphere in the arena was suddenly energized, just as if a switch had been flicked, and the guys pulled it together for an excellent win. One seemingly effortless yet almost gravity-defying play changed the tide in the game and cheered over a thousand people.

That experience of first witnessing a perfect rebound has stuck with me and has finally made me understand something that people have been telling me for years. Frequently, when people heard of one of my achievements, usually academic, or made a point to compliment me on my cheery disposition I would think, “Don’t people go to college all the time?” or, “Don’t most people laugh and smile?” Now I understand that these people see these accomplishments by and traits in a person with a disability and medical obstacles like a perfect rebound. I have taken some seemingly small, average action in life, like going to college, and now to law school, just like reaching up to grab that ball, and thus, I have turned the tide in my favor and against the obstacles of my disability and brain tumor. Essentially, I have rebounded, and what I see as the simple practicality of it apparently seems less simple to others and thus more impressive. As I consider people who have impressed me with their resilience, I realize that I love a rebound, literal or figurative. This I believe: a perfect rebound charges up an arena, and witnessing another’s personal rebound is enervating and inspiring. So while I’ll now be more aware of and inspired by people’s personal rebounds, I’ll still be sitting courtside watching for another perfect rebound.