Basketball's best

Kayak (Canada) - - FICTION FEATURE - Il­lus­trated by Stephane Boutain • Writ­ten by Va­lerie Drake

Ed­mon­ton, 1923

Char­lie’s face was bright red, and beads of sweat were rolling from his eye­brows to his chin, but he didn’t seem to no­tice. He stared at the gym’s score­board. “I still can’t be­lieve it,” he mut­tered, mostly to him­self. “How did we get beaten by a bunch of girls?” His team­mates just shook their heads. They couldn’t be­lieve it ei­ther. “What a pack of nin­nies!” said a girl’s voice. Char­lie’s younger sis­ter tossed a towel at her brother. “Did you re­ally think you could win? No­body beats the Ed­mon­ton Grads!” Louise grabbed a basketball from un­der a player’s arm and drib­bled it down the court. She jumped for a layup but bounced the ball off the back­board and onto the court, where a smil­ing young woman in a skirt and blouse picked it up. “You were close,” the woman said. “You just need to relax a bit. Don’t shoot it quite so hard.” In the blink of an eye, she ex­pertly drib­bled up to the net, jumped and with a soft flick of her wrist, the ball obe­di­ently dropped through the net. “Can you teach me that?” Louise asked ea­gerly. “I’d give any­thing to play with you, Daisy!” The woman grinned. “Keep prac­tis­ing, and in a few years, you’ll be old enough to try out. But you’ll have to work hard. Not just any­one makes it onto the Ed­mon­ton Grads! Right, ladies?” Daisy John­son turned to her team­mates, who were chat­ting and laugh­ing as they left the change room. “Right!” sev­eral of them said. Eleanor Moun­ti­field stopped and pre­tended to be very se­ri­ous as she laid a hand on Louise’s head. “You don’t have to be the tallest or the fastest or the strong­est basketball player to be on the Grads, but you do have to be the hard­est-work­ing.” She winked. “Oth­er­wise, you might end up like these chumps.” She jerked

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