Picture of Books taken by Ian Britton: Freefoto.com
My journey from the maple wood floors of the basketball court, to the mahogany wood desks of the court room
The game ended when I was still seventeen years old. A disappointing defeat at the state finals ended my senior year and a magical twenty game winning streak. At the time, I was about to leave for college in a few months, but I already started to miss my teammates, the game, and above all else the competitive rush. During the fall I would leave good old Hopedale and go to Northeastern for school. I was excited about the new opportunities, but not my life without competitive sports. Like most, I had no idea of what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. However, I knew that I didn’t want what I did in high school to stand as my only achievements. I also didn’t want the sense of competition to forever elude me, so I went on searching.
There were the years of studying, reading and reading. A few summers later, I lucked out and got a job with the Suffolk District Attorney’s office as an intern. Knowing very little about the subject beyond what I saw on television, my expectations were limited. It was one of my first days when I got a chance to watch one of my first trials, and when I did I feel in love with the art. I knew that this was what I have been looking for.
Today I realize that the world of competitive sports and trial work has many similarities. For one, practice is a key part of success. There may be people out there that possess a natural gift in terms of scoring a basketball or trying a case, however, I knew that wasn’t me. Trial experts, basketball coaches, colleagues and teammates may tell me how to shoot a ball or object in a trial, but the only way to get better for me was to actually do it.
Second, I must prepare for both. In the past, preparation included scouting the other team, learning the type of defenses they played, the offense sets they ran, and finally preparing a game plan to give my team the best chance to win. In the court room, it is quite the same figuring out the other team’s defensive and offensive strategies and coming up with a game plan to put in the best case.
I also noticed that the mental challenges are similar. For basketball, one of the most difficult things was to play well when I was fatigued. It is no different for me in the court room. Obviously, I am not running around the court as I would on the basketball court, but a case can go for hours to days. The same mental challenges exist for me. During the basketball game, I want to stick tot the game plan, run the right play, get a turnover if possible and not do anything that could lose the game. In the court room, I want to stick to the theory of my case, ask the right questions, object to evidence and not do anything to jeopardize the case. The game and the trial are tiring affairs which make it more difficult to focus and to make the right decisions.
Finally, I love both for its competitive aspect. It is hard to replace the pressure of shooting free throws in a tight game, the euphoria of making a game winning shot, and the sorrow of defeat. Inconceivable to me at the age of 17, but many years later I was able to find that trial work provides some of the same emotions for me. Sure I still try to play in competitive basketball games, but now my battles are done behind a mahogany desk rather than on maple wood floors.
2000 Boy Basketball: Clark Tournament Champions, Central Mass. Champions, State Finalist. http://www.miaa.net/bsktbll-cmass-champions.htm
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