During basketball season of 1979-80, I played for four teams at Boys Club of Honolulu. (Yeah, I know, it's called Boys and Girls Club of Honolulu now.) That meant tryouts were in November, and I played for the Panthers under Coach Dwight Sato. We practiced long hours under the sun on the asphalt courts of Washington Intermediate School.
Coach was tough on us, but we needed it, especially a skinny kid in the post like me. I ended up playing for teams under Coach Dwight in the Palama League, another league I can't remember, and then our all-star team that went to California. So we practiced from November until April. It was a long season, but it was the most fun I ever had playing organized hoops as a kid.
Most of us guys on the teams were broke. I gave up my paper route the summer before ninth grade, so every dime counted. That meant a lot of quick stops at Zippy's for Gravy and Rice. For 45¢, you got exactly that, in a small bowl. For us guys who were famished after practice, it was the best thing we could afford. I wonder if Zippy's still serves that.
Anyway, it was a nice snack, along with some tabasco over the top, before we got on the bus and headed home on the #1 bus going down King Street. I sure did a lot of running and walking back then. No wonder I was so skinny. And in shape. Even after we got off at the bus stop near Puck's Alley, it was another 15-minute walk to get home (Date Street). That's why most times, I went home right after school and came back in my basketball clothes ... riding my Roger DeCosta bike. It was kinda small for me by then, with my knees hitting the alloy handlebars most of the time.
I think of that basketball season and what it did for me, what it taught me about practice and persistence. I wasn't that talented, but I willed myself to get better. I listened to Coach Dwight. I worked my ass off. And I ate my share of gravy and rice.