Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coming Home

This past Friday, I was given a couple of basketball games to officiate at the Chinese Recreation Center in Chinatown (San Francisco). For those not from San Francisco, the center is right across the street from the Cable Car Museum at Washington St. & Mason St.

The games I was officiating were first round playoff games for an 18 years old and under summer basketball league that was running. The games themselves went by very quietly. My partner and I were in and out of the gym in about two hours.

What surprised me was the reaction of the folks who run the center. They were both surprised AND happy that a "homegrown Chinatown boy" had come back to officiate the games. It was surprising because I'd officiated at the center plenty of times in years past (Christmas and Chinese New Year's tournaments) though I'd never officiated the league before. To me, it wasn't that unusual to come back.

However, in my recent visits to the center, I noticed they had been putting up old basketball photos from the center's history. To the uninformed observer, the photos may not mean much. For me, knowing the history of basketball in San Francisco's Chinatown, I know the photos and the associated history mean a lot to everyone at the center.

I never thought of myself as a "homegrown Chinatown boy" because I never actually lived in Chinatown. However, I did go to school at nearby Commodore Stockton Elementary and St. Mary's Chinese Day School. For all intensive purposes, I did grow up in Chinatown for good eight years of my life. In addition, I coached basketball at St. Mary's for twelve years. Because St. Mary's did not have a gym, my teams practiced at the center often and that's what a lot of people at the center remember me for.

I definitely had a great time officiating Friday. The games themselves were not the main focus. The reaction from the various people in the center made me realize that my contributions went beyond just the game itself. I felt like I was giving back to the community which had given a lot to me and that felt good!

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