There was once a day in the Beacon office when Hoop Dreams lived. In the earliest days of our humble beginnings, intrepid reporter Dan Testa found an answer to the daily stresses of starting a news organization: a Nerf hoop. Our staff was small and desks were limited, so the office had an open space large enough to accommodate a series of epic P-I-G games. Then, much to our dismay, the Beacon turned out to be successful enough to hire new people, thus clogging the court. It was then, the dreams died.
I choose to dredge up these bittersweet memories today because only minutes ago something overcame photographer Lido Vizzutti and reporter Keriann Lynch, and for an oh so brief time, they awakened these dreams from their deep slumber.
As Lido shot, I was moved by the sight of the awkwardly bouncing ball, which was once a vibrant orange but over time has been diminished to a dull, dirty gray. The ball, so worn it has nickel-sized craters in its fragile Nerf body, looks like a chew toy – it looks just like I remember. Ah, the nostalgia runs strong.
In those glory days, it was entirely necessary to have an outlet, or distraction, if you will. We were all spending six long days a week in the office, growing pale and disconnected from the real world. Finding ourselves here late at night in front of glowing computer screens, staring off in the distance like zombies, we would whisper things like: “What day is it?” or “Am I hungry?” Then Mr. Testa brought in the hoop and diligently worked at connecting it to an appropriate height on the wall.
We were all awed by its bright orange flames and emblazoned Nerf logo. Today, the flames still burn bright, though the passion of competition does not.
Everybody had their specialties, though this was before Keriann had arrived. Today was, sadly, one of the few times she has ever taken a shot. She still has not had the truly unique privilege of a full game of Beacon P-I-G. But back to the specialties. Lido mastered a high-arching rainbow release that (usually) sailed over the lights hanging from the tall ceiling and dropped directly through the small Nerf cylinder.
Editor Kellyn Brown performed an assortment of dunks, varying in degrees of danger. One time, in an apparent attempt to use the wall shelves as springboards, Kellyn’s slick dress shoes slid off a narrow shelf and brought him tumbling to the ground, nearly causing an injury that he would have to lie about for the rest of his life. Mr. Testa had a sky hook reminiscent of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, though nothing else about Dan reminds me of Abdul-Jabbar.
And me? I can’t give away my secrets because, deep down, with my nostalgia thoroughly revived, I believe the Nerf dreams can become reality again. Perhaps the added desks and employees can serve as obstacles and fundamental components of the game in their own rights. So if we do bring the Nerf back, I’ll have my secret weapons safely secured and ready to unleash.
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