My name is Harrison Epstein. I’m 20 years old, a sportswriter, a Weber State University junior and have never played on an organized basketball team. I also tried to walk-on to the WSU basketball team.
Before I even had a chance to step on the court in front of coaches, I had deal with a round of paperwork. Looking at the stack of forms I had to print out and fill out was almost enough to dissuade me from trying out at all.
In spite of the forms upon forms, I decided that it was worth it, making my first stop with the filled out forms at the athletic training office for a physical.
I felt immediately like a fish out of water, waiting in the middle of the training room as actual WSU athletes were getting massaged, taped and healed.
After I was able to get my physical done and my form approved, the rest was just finding the proper offices and getting signature after signature.
Just a few hours later, everything was signed and it was a simple matter of time as the next day I would give it my all and try to become a college athlete.
By the time I woke up on Sept. 22, the day of the tryout, I had so many emotions I could barely decipher each one. At the forefront of my mind was fear.
I was mortified at the idea that there would be a drove of other attempted walk-ons, all significantly better than me, and that I would embarrass myself to the point of having to drop out of school and move to a cabin in the middle of nowhere.
Weirdly enough, the other emotion I had was confidence. The confidence came almost entirely from the people around me.
Everybody who knew of my tryout gave me their support. When it was finally time, I made my way to the Swenson Gym to find 11 other walk-on hopefuls.
Just a quick scan of the gym and I knew that I had a snowball’s chance in hell of making the team.
When the clock hit 5 p.m., coach Garrett Lever and director of operations Tim O’Flannigan huddled around the group to give us the big news.
Only one player, maximum, was making the team.
The first drill was to line up on the baseline and dribble to half court, and then back. We did about a dozen dribbling drills, and after they were done, I was feeling pretty good about my skills.
After dribbling, the next drill was my best opportunity to show my value to the team. The object was to dribble around several cones before handing off the ball, coming off a screen and shooting. If the entire tryout was that drill I might have actually had a chance at making the team.
There was then about 20 minutes of 4-on-4-on-4. My main objective during this drill was to look competent. That was what actually happened, outside of one play when I kicked my own foot while backing up and I went down. That wasn’t the final moment of the tryout, but for me it may as well have been.
In the end, I did not make the team. My exercise in futility was ended with a short, but motivational, email from O’Flannigan. Despite the length of the email it only took one sentence to find the email’s true message:
“After consulting with the coaching staff, we are not able to offer you a spot on the men’s basketball team at this time.”
At this time. Those words have rattled in my head since I got the email. So who knows? Maybe I’ll try out again next year. I’ve already done the paperwork.