Overtime for Love(2)

By: Synithia Williams


She looked around the inside of the activity center. The large one-story building was filled with light from the multitude of windows along the front. It housed a gymnasium, rooms for various exercise and art classes, and a large meeting space. A table next to one of the classrooms had a sign that identified it as the spot to register for the Gators’ basketball camp.

They signed in at the desk and were directed inside, where twenty other kids and their parents and guardians sat waiting. She and Cory found a seat toward the front. Angela spotted and waved at the program director, Keri Little. Keri was a petite firecracker of a woman with mocha skin and natural red hair cut into a short tapered style. Angela often spoke with Keri when recommending kids from their office to the program.

Keri moved to the front of the room and tapped on the desk to get everyone’s attention. The hum of conversation disappeared and Keri gave the room a hundred-watt smile.

“Good afternoon! First, I want to thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to come to the orientation for the Jacksonville Gators’ basketball camp. This is going to be a great year, not only because I know we’ve got a great group of kids, but also because our Gators are league champions!”

Keri cheered and many of the parents and kids joined in. Cory sat up straighter. Excitement crept into his light brown eyes. Angela felt a rush of satisfaction. Finally, a show of interest.

“I know an orientation for a basketball camp may seem odd,” Keri continued, “but believe me, after partnering with the Gators for seven years to bring this program together, there are a lot of things we want to make sure we let parents and kids know. Plus, this year we have a few changes. Each year, Coach Gray lets me know which players will be participating in the camp. If you look in your packet, you’ll see a list of the players attending and when they’ll be here. Coach Gray just informed me that this year’s host player will be none other than star forward Isaiah Reynolds!”

Another murmur went through the crowd as a quick flash of excitement surged through Angela. She couldn’t serve drinks in a popular gentlemen’s club and not have come across a few members of the Gators team. As the team’s “good guy,” Isaiah was typically an exception to the rule, but he’d come in after the team won the championship and they all came in to celebrate at the club.

To her surprise, he’d hung out at the bar instead of making it rain hundred-dollar bills in the VIP section. She’d served him drinks. He’d asked about her tribal tattoo, an African symbol of strength, on her wrist. Not in the creepy, I’m-trying-to-fake-interest-to-hook-up-with-you way she often got. He’d seemed genuinely interested. Before long, they’d struck up a conversation that never lapsed or grew stale, even when she walked away to serve other customers. She’d felt a connection, so much so that she’d debated whether to give him her number if he wanted it, but he’d left without asking.

She’d been a little disappointed, but things happened for a reason. Isaiah not asking for her number had probably been for the best. Most guys who hit on her at the club only wanted a quick hookup. Not her style. That didn’t stop the flutter of her heart at the thought of seeing him again.

“I know we’re all very excited to be interacting with such talented players, but please remember, they’re here for the camp—not for socializing. We’re very protective of their privacy,” Keri said, as if she could sense the anticipation jolting through Angela.

Angela’s face heated even though Keri wasn’t looking at her. She was here for Cory. One cool conversation with Isaiah wasn’t important.

Keri’s smile shifted to a look of determination. “One of the reasons this program works so well is because of the rules. So here they are. There will be plenty of opportunities for you and your kids to take pictures with the players. So please, no selfies, unsolicited shots, or requests for pictures. Do not ask for autographs. The players will give each kid an autographed jersey at the end of camp. No asking for money.” Keri held up a hand when a few parents, including Angela, chuckled in surprise. “I know that sounds obvious, but we’ve had people try. And again, please respect boundaries—parents, that also means no fraternizing with the players, if you know what I mean. Violation of any of these rules will result in your child’s immediate withdrawal from the program.”

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