Firsts

So this was a weekend of firsts for me. My first official game as a player. The first win for our women’s team. And my first time eating FROGS LEGS.

Let’s start with Saturday night. My first game as a player. After about 3 months in France, I finally received my license to play from the French Federation of Basketball. The week I received it, my team did not have a game. So that simply meant that there was more time for the pressure to build and for more people to not only ask if I was ready, but tell me they were excited to come watch me play (especially the players that I coach, from the kids to the women, all of whom said they’ll be watching for any and all mistakes that I make!).

Suffice it to say that come Saturday I felt a great deal of pressure. My first game turned into an event where we had a packed out gym and a presentation of players where each of us was introduced with one younger player from the U13 girls team. I think the presentation with younger players is a great idea as it helps to get everyone in the club involved. It is an honor for us as well as something fun for the kids. Here we are before the game with the Benjamines, as the U13 girls team is called.
SAM_1462So the game started and I should mention that we were playing the last place team. We jumped out to a solid 20 or so point lead in the first quarter and held on for the remainder of the game. I came out of the game with 2 minutes to go in the first quarter and when I returned to the game in the second, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing as everyone in the crowd went absolutely nuts. At the start of the game there was cheering and everything. But now it was a dead ball and a substitution so the gym was relatively quiet and then it got loud. Real loud. Normally I’m very serious on the court, but this time I couldn’t help myself from smiling. Thanks a lot to everyone in St. O who showed such tremendous support, you have no idea how much that means to me!

We went on to win the game by 38 points. Not much of a game, but it was fun nonetheless. Fellow guard Jerome, who has previously played the majority of his career in National 2 in France (which means he’s really good) put on quite a show with some fancy passes and deep 3’s. Me and him each tried an ally-oop to our big guy Jean-Ma to no avail. I played pretty well myself and was happy enough with my performance. However, at one point, I went to make a no-look, one handed pass to my teammate Manu and OF COURSE, as always, Manu wasn’t ready for it and the ball hit off of him and went out of bounds. Here is actually a photo of right when the play was happening.
manuAnd here we are later on. You can see Manu wearing his stupid Celtics warmup (probably why he missed the pass!) and Alex on the other side both laughing probably after I finished ripping Manu apart for never being ready for my passes (and I’m happy Manu speaks the best English on the team because that means he understood every word I was saying, especially the curses). I told him I’m never passing to him again.
IMG_4498Overall, however, it was a good game. I did miss one lay up during the game though and you better believe that I heard it from my U15 players. As soon as I missed it, and mind you it was a difficult shot in transition between 2 defenders, all of a sudden from the stands I hear all my players yelling at me in English exactly what I always yell to them “WE NEED TO MAKE LAYUPS!!!” On the other hand, the other thing I tell them is very important is that they need to make foul shots and you better believe this guy went 5 for 5 from the line.
IMG_4525Good game and a great turnout from everyone in St. Oren’s Basket for which we thanked them after the game.
SAM_1477

I should also mention that I received an awesome gift after the game. Fellow coach and player, Kevin, bought me a can of Guinness, and one for himself of course, to celebrate my first official game. That was awesome. Thanks a lot Kev!
photo-47

On to Sunday. Our women’s team plays in a very difficult Pre-National league here in France. They’ve been struggling thus far in the season with a couple close losses as well as a few blow outs. However, things started to finally click on Sunday and they were able to pull out their first W which made not only them, but myself, Philippe, and Vincent (the other assistant) very happy as well as everyone else in the club.

This is the only photo I have from the game Sunday. The other team had black jerseys also which meant that we had to dig out some old white jerseys for the women to wear. So no, those are not their normal jerseys, and yes, Vincent and I think they should wear them from now on because we won they wore them.
SAM_1478Now, considering we won Saturday night, the women got their first win on Sunday, Fanou and her husband Christian, decided that I had earned the right to have Cuisses de Grenouille. Oh what is that you might ask? Yea. It’s FROGS LEGS.
photo-46I explained to them that a common stereotype that a lot of Americans have of the French is that all they eat is frogs legs and escargot. Therefore, they felt it was essential that I try it all. I’ve yet to have the escargot but this was certainly an experience for me considering I never EVER thought I would actually eat frogs legs. But Christian told me “Ne pense pas de l’animal quand tu manje.” This means don’t think about the animal when you eat it. Ok I agreed, but how the hell can I not think about the animal when it looks exactly like frog’s legs?!?!
photo-45Honestly, it actually wasn’t bad. Didn’t exactly taste like chicken. Tasted a little bit more like fish but I did enjoy it. Either way, I can now say that I’ve officially played a basketball game in France and officially eaten frogs legs. Another check for cross-cultural experiences. I’ve now eaten frogs legs, pig guts, some amazing desserts, some great cheeses, some really strong and disgusting cheeses and next on the list is escargot. Then, I think my French cuisine experience will be complete.

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