It is 7:59 on June 5, 2016 and I am writing this as a tribute to my old basketball coach, Jerry Farrior. Why 7:59? That is because for three seasons, Saturday morning practices started at 7:59am. One more minute, 8:00, and sprints or some other unsavory ridicule would be gifted to anyone who wanted to get there late. Here’s how it went:

7:30: We started arriving and shooting jumpers. If the balls weren’t out, Tim Marsh would start singing John Cougar songs.

7:59: “Let’s go. Lay ups.” That would be Coach Farrior. He would be rocking a Fayetteville Polo, tennis shorts of early 80s appropriate length, low cut Pro Keds with mid-calf socks. We quickly got in lines and started with lay ups and jump shots.

8:09: Monkey Drills: These were the worst form conditioning next to whatever CrossFit would throw my way years later as an adult. I hated the drill. Essentially, we made a figure-8 around the gym using the baselines and sidelines as our Spirograph while tapping the floor with each shuffle. Yo, Johnny Wallace, did you have to go so fast?

8:19: Passing Drills: In this one we shuffled from one end of the gym to the other while completing whatever pass with either a basketball or a weighted basketball. If the pass was not complete, the duo had to complete another trip. Two hands, Russell…

8:29: Shuffle Drills: Take a defensive stance and shuffle as quickly as possible across the lane on the basketball court. 10x, 9x, 8x…

8:39: 1v1 Full Court: Two guys go out and play one on one. Loser stays. Hey Me, why did you go so early? It makes for a long morning when you lose the first game played. Heard, we survived, brother!

8:59: Free Throw Practice: Groove them now or pay later.

9:09: Game Practice

9:39: Sprints/Suicides: Everyone had to run whatever number of sprints in the time that coach called out. Sometimes I think his clock was wrong and he just made us run to run. The worst episode of this conditioning actually happened on a Thursday night, Thanksgiving 1982 or 1983… Come on, Ozzy!!! Everyone, quit cheating!!! I nearly lost my dinner on that one.

9:45: 2 or 20: Take two free throws. Make them both and practice is over. Make 1, take 10 laps. Miss 2, take 20 laps.

10:00: Practice is done. Hardees, home, shower, nap…

Sometimes the Saturdays got to be hard. As a sophomore, I didn’t get to play much. As a junior, I played a lot. As a senior, my playing time decreased as the season went on. To be fair, I was an average player. I had a decent jump shot and played good defense. I had no handle or hops and I made bad decisions with the ball from time to time. I wasn’t scared on the court, though. Coach Farrior got me to be tough with loose ball and boxing out drills. Even though I was not gifted with the backside spread of coach, I understood how to use my butt and elbows to hold my position. None of the teams we faced had players that scared me. I probably should have been scared of the kid from Denbigh who got taken from a college class we were in by the Newport News police. I’ll also admit I tried to stay away from the Hampton coach. I’m not sure what he said to me on the sidelines once, but I know it was the one time in my life I felt compelled to keep my mouth shut. Anyway, I think that toughness came from my coach and in part, his unique start time for practice.

Thanks, Coach.

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