The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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She Got Game
Handball takes my mind away from troubles
Cynthia Orbes
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When I go to the handball courts it's like I'm entering a different world where I can escape my anger and confusion and have fun. I want to win, so when I enter the courts I have to throw away all of my thoughts and focus on the game.

I play handball at a park near where I live. In summer, the courts are always crowded, even though there are 12 courts at that park. In the winter, it's dead silent and you can't find anyone to play with. Maybe one or two people are practicing, at most (one of them just might be me).

Playing in the Rain

It's hard to play in the cold because it hurts when the ball hits your palm, but sometimes I make exceptions, like when I really want to play badly and the courts are clean. Sometimes I even play in the rain. Still, the sun goes down at around 4:30 so I can't play too long. And I really can't play in snow. I would probably break my leg.

So in winter I can't wait for spring when I can play again. When I go back to the courts, I feel reborn and energized like a mummy that has just woken up from 1,000 years of rest.

I first started going to the handball courts when I was about 13. Until then, handball wasn't my thing. I liked hanging on the park's swings with my good friend Lauren, singing lyrics to rock songs.

When I was 10, I saw a friend's sister play and I decided to learn because it looked fun. I tried but then I gave up. It was too hard for me. I guess I was too young. She tried to teach me and I just didn't get it.

Then, when I turned 13, I tried again and I was determined. I wanted to learn badly. I practiced alone, throwing the ball to the wall and trying to catch it, then throwing the ball and trying to hit it. I would always miss the ball or it would go out of the court, but the more I practiced, the better my aim got and the harder I hit it.

image by Gabriel Smith

Killer Moves

Then I started to play with a friend. It took about one year to become good. It's not easy at the beginning. You have to remember the rules and learn the cool moves like the killer, roller, cutting the ball or doing a backhand.

To play you need power, placement, agility and precision. You need power because if you're tired you won't be able to run for the ball, and if you don't hit the ball hard enough, then your ball probably won't make the wall and your opponent will win a point.

Placement means thinking about where the other person will hit the ball and getting ready to run there. If you're not in the right spot, it'll be hard to hit it back.

That's when you will need to be quick. Otherwise, your opponent will ace you (that's when someone serves the ball so fast to the opposite side from where you're standing that you miss it). You need to be precise when you hit the ball, to make sure it bounces as far from your opponent as possible.

To do all of these things well, I need to concentrate. That's why handball takes my mind away from my troubles.

Up for a Challenge

For me, the handball courts are a good place to get away from everything and escape reality. When I am angry, playing alone relieves my anger. I hit the ball hard and quickly. If I am mad at a particular person, then I picture their face and pretend I am smacking them while I am playing, instead of doing it in real life.

When I do good moves like a roller or killer, I know I am doing a good job and that makes me feel better. If I keep missing the ball or if it goes in the wrong direction, I get pissed off. But either way, I just like to see if I'm getting better. I'm always up for a good challenge.

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(FCYU-2003-11-08)