The bench. We’ve all had our moments of having to ride the pine. Whether it’s because of needing a break, fouls or under developed skills, at one time or another, we’ve each stepped aside and let someone else have a turn on the floor or the field.
In homeschool sports, like smaller schools, there are some kids who never see time of the floor without a 50 point lead. During my senior year, we had three girls who never saw time in varsity games. One was a junior, who, although she mostly joined the team for socialization and exercise, never complained about riding the pine. She always had a water ready and waiting for whomever was subbed out.
For three years, I heard her complain about suicides, but I definitely never heard her complain about not setting foot on the court.
My summer teams gave me plenty of time on the pine and on the court. I remember games where girls couldn’t make it and one injury later, we played more than half a game with just four players on the floor. Other tournaments, there were so many players that I only touched the ball during warmups.
Those times taught gave me time to find a way to support my team another way, through cheering. I became a master of the semi-obnoxious chants that teams scream. It became what I was known for in high school and in college.
Riding the pine gave me perspective on the game. Sports are so much more than just scoring points and running plays. There are times that my contributions were needed on the floor and sometimes they were needed off the floor.
When I first started in sports, I hated sitting on the bench. I felt useless and I needed to be on the floor helping my team. Even when my skills were not where they needed to be or when I was out with a bum ankle, I wanted to be out there.
Through the years, I ended up valuing the time on the bench. I became grateful for a physical break and enjoyed supporting my teams in other ways. Sometimes, ridin’ the pine isn’t so bad.
Chloe Goff is a former college basketball player and a former Branson performer who enjoys a plethora of activities, most of which make her sound like a walking oxymoron.