Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.
The year was 1978, and I sat cockily on the bench waiting for my name to be called for the starting lineup of the St. Theresa All Stars basketball team. Our squad was for lack of a better description – Bad Ass. We ruled the courts, often beating opponents by multiple digits.
Angelina – our star center, Tonya our power guard, Trina my bestie, a strong forward all stood center court as their names were called. I assumed, I would be next, adjacent to Trina, after all, that’s the way it had always been. My palms were pressed against the bench ready to run and slap hands with our starting lineup, however, my spirits were shocked and deflated when another classmate, Teresa’s name was called for MY position. As we labored through practice, running lines, layups, and free throws, our coach, Wayne Melonson could see my dismay. He pulled me aside and offered me a ride home after practice. I recall climbing into his Vega ready to burst in tears. I was feeling jaded, betrayed, and just flat out angry as any 13 year old would be. He could not make this right. I was tall, always have been and I was already over 5’7 by 8th grade. I had always been a gifted athlete, receiving trophies as a gymnast, and swimmer, as well as ball player- so why was I humiliated into sitting on the bench???
I will never forget the lesson that Wayne taught me on that ride home. At the time, the Seattle Sonics were a viable contender in the NBA and were the Western Conference Champions. They actually won the Championship the following year. Wayne looked at me and said, do you know who the most valuable player on the Sonics is? I whimpered and stammered, Slick Watts, staring out the dark rainy window, fuming. After all, Slick was the showman dashing down the court, his trade mark head band soaking up the sweat of his bald head as the crowd roared and cheered.
Wayne, paused and said, in his opinion it was Downtown Freddie Brown. Freddie didn’t start, so how could that be? Wayne went on to explain that Freddie was the smartest and most valuable player, because he sat on the bench and accessed what was happening and then when he entered the game, he cohesively coached and instructed his team mates on what action was needed for victory. Wayne shared that I was his Freddie Brown, and he entrusted this important position to me.
Wayne restored my spirit, and made me feel empowered. As the years went by, this valuable lesson has resonated on so many levels in my life. My uncle Q has a saying
“Observe it, figure it out, put it to the soul and science test and say, I Can Do this.” Wayne’s lesson taught me humility, patience, perseverance and most of all, you don’t have to be a starter to be a winner.
Yesterday, we said goodbye to Wayne and this photo of him speaks volumes as in his eyes, he truly did SEE each and everyone of us. We were blessed to be touched by this generous soul.
He was my math teacher, my homeroom teacher, my coach, and friend. Sometimes in life, your at your best, observing, figuring it out, putting it to the soul and science test and coming off the bench.
Thank you Wayne… Forever in our hearts and spirit.