Galen was a standout his first season at the YMCA, when he was 8.
The next year we signed up for the club team, which turned our six-week rec league season into six months of intense tournament play.
He played in a 3-on-3 league over the summer and, at the conclusion of the club season the following spring, he began playing with an Amateur Athletic Union team, a national youth sports organization that, in addition to increasing the level of competition also expanded our travel radius to a tristate region.
But while I (most of the time) looked forward to swimming practices and meets, the chance to test my mettle against my peers, basketball tournaments made Galen nothing but miserable.
“Maybe it’s time to quit,” I said.
“If I quit basketball, what sport do I play?” Galen asked.
“How about NO sport,” I said.
You can play basketball with friends all you want, but you don’t have to play on a team.
“Every kid at my school plays something.” If he didn’t have a sport, he continued, “I’ll be a nobody.” “I’m only trying to consider how our light is spent,” I told Galen.
He didn’t become a nobody or stop being an athlete.