Stuck on the sidelines

The story of a basketball player struggling to stay off the bench.
KICKED TO THE CURB Players’ skills are often literally sidelined when they’re benched, leading to frustration, dissatisfaction and, in some cases, outright quitting the team.
KICKED TO THE CURB Players’ skills are often literally sidelined when they’re benched, leading to frustration, dissatisfaction and, in some cases, outright quitting the team.

Junior Christian Callos started playing basketball at just the age of six. He knew basketball was the sport for him from when he first picked up the ball. 

He proceeded to play basketball throughout his elementary and middle school years, playing for recreation parks and an AAU team. He was as happy as ever because he was thriving in his sport. 

In his sophomore year, Callos tried out for the basketball team and successfully got in. 

But he then fell victim to his coach’s harsh favoritism, leading the young star to quit the team before the season even started. 

“I quit the team because he wouldn’t even pay attention to me at all during games and practice,” Callos said. “My teammates would get subbed into the games more than me, and I’d still be on the bench.”

But he knew deep down that he didn’t want this to end his basketball career. Luckily for him, his old basketball coach had quit before the new season. Callos took the chance to try out for his the team and made it. He was more than willing to continue playing the sport he cherished, but that sentiment didn’t last.

Once again, his coach ignored him. Once again, however, he couldn’t find it in himself to quit the team. He held basketball dear to his heart, so he worked hard to improve his skill in the sport. 

I practiced outside of the regular practice we would have as a team, but by myself,” Callos said. “I would also go to the park even though I would have stuff like homework to do just because I wanted to be better.”

He did this for a while, but he saw no changes being made on the courts; his teammates would still get subbed in more than him. 

It was at that point that he reached his breaking point.

Callos lost a lot of confidence in himself as a player because even after all his hard work, he’d still be sat on the bench during games. 

“Since I know the results I lose motivation to even show up to practice because what’s the point if I’m just going to be sitting on that bench,” Callos stated. “I should be on that court when my teammates are on there, and I could do what they could do probably even better.”

His experience wasn’t unique. He had other teammates such as David Figueroa that would sit on the bench with him throughout the entire game. 

“I feel bad because we put in the same amount of work, if not more, but we don’t get the opportunity to show it on the court,” Figueroa said. 

“We all share a common feeling of anger,” Callos said. “I’m pretty sure they’ve been feeling the same way as me.” 

Things got so bad for him, that he even started to have thoughts of quitting the team.

“I’ve thought of it so many times, but I don’t think I’ll go through with it because I’ve been playing basketball for so long, so I’d just be ending my whole career then.”

But when Callos finally had enough, he decided to ask his coach why those things were happening to him. 

“I think it’s because of the lack of commitment I have, that’s what they say,” Callos said.  “Apparently, they show more effort and show up to more practices than me even though that isn’t true. I guess it’s because I haven’t proven myself to be as good as these other players that are on the court. But the coach doesn’t give me a chance to prove myself.” 

His teammates would also say the same thing.

“In my opinion, he has to show some type of commitment, get in shape and show up to practice,” senior and captain Jonco Holgado stated. “Even though he doesn’t get to play much, he’s still a valued player, he brings great energy to the team and he’s a close friend of mine. ” 

Even though they saw the areas he could improve in, he was still their teammate and friend.

I wouldn’t get jealous because I know they would vouch for me, it’s just that I know I should be there with them,” Callos said.

He knew they weren’t the ones stopping him from playing – in fact, some of the younger players looked up to him. 

Even his own captain saw that he deserved more time on the court because he still made it to Varsity for a reason, in spite of the flaws that made his coach overlook him. 

“As a captain, I think he should get more play time definitely because he has skill, he knows the game well, and he makes the right plays,” small forward Abraham Ceja said. “He’s a good player, he’s a valuable person to have on the team with his IQ and dribbling. But one thing that can be fixed is conditioning if he wants a spot on the court.” 

So, although the season didn’t go his way, he plans to join the team next year to show his coach how much he improved.I’ll be playing again next year even though I wasn’t put on the court a lot,” Callos said. “I still hope to come back a lot better than I am right now and a lot more motivated.”

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About the Contributor
Chioma Chiawa
Chioma Chiawa, Staff
Chioma Chiawa is a junior in her first year of journalism. She enjoys reading comic books, baking cookies, and watching the UCLA women's volleyball team. She enjoys reading “Real Friends” by Shannon Hale and listening to A$AP Rocky and The Weeknd. She intends to enter a 4 year university and get her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing.
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