"Cut"ÃÂ I was trying out for my eighth grade season of basketball, since I had made the team the year before and was the coaches favorite I was in no way ready for what was about to happen to me. I, like Bob Greene, and many young teenage boys knows what if feels like to be "cut"ÃÂ from the team. I can remember this feeling of rejection because it was the first time, and it was for reasons I could not control.
My story starts in seventh grade. I was a backup point guard for a championship team. I started half of the games, but not because of my talent because by far I was the smallest kid on the team. The starting point guard was an eighth grader who would be departing for high school the next year, so it was promising for me to take over the role when he left.
In my mind, and the minds of other players on the team, it was a general feeling that I was a better player, just smaller and younger. This is the only reason why I could think I was not playing all the time. My relationship with the coach was great. I was a manager for the team my fifth and sixth grade years before I was eligible to play, so we knew each other very well. All these factors would make what was in store for me so hard to understand.
The next season tryouts started and everyone was geared up. I had gone to basketball camps during that summer. I knew I was ready to take the team over but there were a few problems for me. I had not grown at all from the previous year, and there was a new kid who was a much bigger point guard. I felt that tryouts went well for the team and I, and we looked like we were going to be champs again. Tryouts ended and it was cut day. Every new kid who tried out would go to school early in case they got cut. I went into school that day at my normal time. When I approached the list to see who I would be playing with, there were a lot of kids huddled around who quickly stopped talking when I got there. I looked at the list, my name was on it, but it was not with the rest of the team. Everybody was telling me, "hey maybe that means you are the captain."ÃÂ I was happy for those few seconds, but then the coach came out of the office and said he wanted to talk to me.
I remember sitting in his office looking at all the team pictures and looking at the one I was in from the year before, still not knowing what was about to happen. The coach finally said to me, "I bet you are wondering why your name is separate."ÃÂ I was thinking he was going to tell me I was captain but he did not. He said, "I still want you to practice with the team but the only playing time you will get is during the fifth quarter."ÃÂ I did not know how to react, because I went from thinking I was going to be captain to hearing I was cut. I asked "why?"ÃÂ he said "well Joe, Anthony is a strong player and he is a lot bigger than you are. I know Brad is in seventh grade but I have to look to the future and play him like I played you last year. It is really unfortunate for you that Tony moved here, but he is a lot stronger than you are and just as talented. This was the hardest thing I have had to do and I hope you understand."ÃÂ Before he could finish that statement I was already out the door crying my eyes out.
This experience hurt me in a lot of ways. I never played organized basketball again after that day, and in fact it took a couple of years for me to dribble a ball again. I was cut for reasons I could not control. I was cut for my physical attributes and the fact I was not a year younger. In ways my story was similar to Bob Greens, but also a lot different. I feel that sports have become so competitive lately that I was cut because the coach had his new player, and kept a younger player to train him for the next season. He put aside our relationship because he wanted to win another championship.
Being at that age and being told you are not wanted is pretty traumatic. I cannot finish my story by saying I am the CEO of Sony, and I owe it all to being cut. But I can say I did not like feeling rejected so I put effort into whatever I do. Yes, maybe someday I will get rejected again, but it is all part of the learning process. Even if it is for reasons I cannot control, like age, race, or being vertically challenged. But no matter what I will keep trying and I owe it all to coach for giving me that first bitter taste of rejection.