Written by: Damire Bermudez, Jay Cooke Elementary School, 2020 MSPP Participant. This article was written in support of the MSPP Virtual Stay-At-Home Tournament.

It was a normal day. I was just trying to get through my classes, doing a little daydreaming, and looking forward to gym class where I could work on my jump shot. Gym class is always fun usually and provides me the opportunity to get ready for PYB practice. Truthfully, on Tuesday and Thursday, that’s all I think about.

I get so excited about those days. I couldn’t wait to see Coach Dhaamin. Who would ever imagine the turn my day would take? A seemingly normal day turned into a nightmare. 

All I can remember I was playing a game in gym class with some of my classmates and next thing I knew I was in an ambulance. I found out I had passed out from a seizure. I never imagined how much it would affect me.  I tried to go back to school the following week, but had more seizures in school. This was before Christmas. Now it’s May and I have not been back to school since then. It has been rough. I was just getting into a groove with my PYB team at school.  We were doing well and I was playing pretty good. I played the forward position because Coach Dhaamin called me his utility guy cause I could do everything pretty good. Coach was hard on me but I know it’s because he depended on me a lot. Sometimes at first I didn’t understand but after my problems with my health I realized how good a guy he was.   

It’s been a tough ordeal. I was in and out of the hospital and having test after test after test. Missing my friends in school and getting behind in school. And everytime I thought I was going back I would get a seizure and I was back in the hospital. It’s hard on my mom as well because nobody could tell me what was wrong. It’s been a tough tough time and I wonder where my life is headed.

Like why is this happening to me?

I have plenty of company at home with about 9 of us in the house. My mom and my cousins. It’s a lot of us. So I have plenty of company. 

What really surprised me is my team didn’t let me down. My coach from PYB, Coach Dhaamin, stayed in contact and checked on me. I received cards and calls from other PYB staff. My coach brought me snacks and took me out to dinner when I was healthy enough to go. He would FaceTime me from practice so I could talk to my teammates that made me feel so happy. I truly thought, even though I couldn’t help what was happening to me, that I was letting my team down. But Coach Dhaamin said, “Heck no, all we care about is for you to get better.” And throughout the whole thing, he was there for me.

Knowing PYB and my coach didn’t forget about me made me feel so much better. Sometimes when I get down, knowing that there are people outside of my family that truly care that means so much. I got a signed basketball from my teammates and flowers and cards. Even though I was sad at times having Coach Dhaamin around and keeping in touch and knowing PYB was not giving up on me meant a whole lot. Not sure if I have to repeat the 8th grade over. It seems like the seizures have slowed down and I feel better. But being a part of PYB and having a friend like Coach Dhaamin, even when he gets on my case, makes me know I am loved. And I can honestly say that that has helped me get through this ordeal.  I am thankful that they are there for me. Just thankful I am alive. Thanks to my team and thanks to a good friend Coach Dhaamin.