I love my high school gym. Probably more than most people should. It’s the gym that feels the most like home for me. It’s not the navy and silver banners, or the logo on center court that I’ve earned the right to walk on, or that I know the grooves in the maple like the back of my hand or the countless times I’ve heard the national anthem echoing across the walls. What makes my gym feel like home is the rafters.
If those rafters could talk, they’d tell some of my favorite memories. They’d tell about when the basketball team beat Pennsbury for the first time in seven years. Or when we held the school’s first all-night dance marathon, Rock-a-Thon. Or the smiles of the kids honored at each Athletes Helping Athletes Classic. Or the senior basketball season I never wanted to end.
But last night, those rafters gained a new memory, one, that for the first time in a long time, wasn’t mine. It was my brother’s senior night.
After racing back down the Turnpike from a full, exciting day with my favorite quads, I walked up the steps of my alma mater, armed with my DSLR, ready to see the CR North Indians take on the rival Neshaminy Redskins. The nerves coach Greg Marchetti were feeling were palpable and the boys were restless with excitement.
While the parents decorated the Commons and dropped off food, my parents and I hung poster portraits of the seniors against the bleachers in the gym, which was already laden with balloons, lights, and streamers. With warmups over and cameras at the ready, the seniors met up with their parents for the pregame ceremony. After each family walked out, it was time for the game to get underway. Neshaminy would not be an easy match, but Senior Night provided a little extra fuel.
The Indians confidently took the first game, before struggling with controversial calls from the officials and a strong Redskins squad. It was definitely stressful to watch, and I likened it to watching the Temple-Indiana NCAA Tournament matchup…and I don’t care all that much for volleyball, so you know I was into it to compare it to that game! Thankfully, Council Rock North dominated in the last game and beat the Redskins to take their Senior Night.
After the game, everyone went downstairs to the Commons in the West Wing, where the parents had organized a chili cookout for dinner. The parents mingled while the boys took the opportunity to sign the posters of the seniors. There was even a cake with the team picture and cupcakes with each of the seniors’ faces on them! It was definitely a perfect way to end Senior Night.
I once watched my high school basketball coach, Derek Wright, give a talk to a bunch of young kids my senior year, early one Saturday morning, as they sat on that same court. He stood on the school’s logo, the big Indian headdress with the large CRN letters in the center of the gym, and no one else was allowed to touch it or sit on it or walk over it. That logo, he explained, was his. He’d earned his diploma from Council Rock North, he’d earned his varsity letter playing basketball for the Indians, he earned that privilege to walk all over that logo and call it his. And when you’d played your heart on that court and worn that CR on your chest and given everything you had to your school and received that varsity letter, he said, you’d have earned it, too.
No matter what court I walked on through the years, I never forgot that, and I’ve never stepped on anyone’s else’s logo. I know that the court on 62 Swamp Road, will stay the only logo I’ll ever walk on because it’s the only one I’ve earned the right to call my own.
Congratulations, Jeremy, you’ve now got the right to walk all over that court and call it yours. You truly earned it.