It was about 18 degrees outside as I sat in my hotel room in Erie, Pennsylvania, this past February. My friend Jay and I were having our morning coffee as we sat watching our daily dose of Sportscenter© on ESPN before we were to hit the road back to Pittsburgh. Highlights from the NBA games the night before were topped off with plays made by New York Knick Jeremy Lin. His quick rise to fame from a humble beginning stemmed from a plethora of injuries affecting the Knickerbocker roster. Both Jay and I share a common interest in basketball. We joked about how great it was to see a young kid making such big waves in the league and was very inspiring to the rest of us who always dreamt of having such an impact on a game. We then realized that instead of going to the nearest walk-on tryouts for the NBA, we really just wanted to play a game of pickup basketball.
Jay saw the upcoming HFA Symposium in Santa, Clara, California, as a perfect opportunity to get a group of guys together to play a morning pickup game on the last day we were all going to be in town. Doing this during one of our largest gatherings of the year gives a chance for like-minded guys, that may or may not have opportunities to play a fun, yet competitive game of basketball, get a chance to just wake up, do their prophylaxis treatment of factor [if needed], and go play ball. Not only would I be enjoying a favorite past time with some of my closest (and some of my newest) friends, I would be encouraging them to live their life in spite of our similarity that is hemophilia. Jay suggested I contact everyone I know that was planning on attending the event. I did some research to locate a few courts nearby.
When we got to Santa Clara, I made sure to get the word out that people were going to meet up early Saturday morning (after the first two days of socializing, but before the last day of Symposium events) and play a couple small games. Knowing how news amongst this community spreads like wildfire, I was certain basketball games would be happening in our near future. The HFA Symposium went so well, as I had anticipated, I reunited with plenty of friends and families I have been fortunate to have met at previous meetings.
When Saturday morning came along, I woke up early to assure myself that the weather was going to cooperate with us so we could play at the outdoor court just outside of our hotel. Unfortunately the west coast sky decided our 7:45 am start time would be the perfect time to start a nice steady rain to clean up the apparent mark the Symposium had left on the fine city of Santa Clara. Needless to say, the outdoor court was out of the picture, for fear of slipping, falling, several bleeds, and plausible liabilities that I wasn’t prepared to be held responsible for. I had already secured a backup indoor court less than 2 miles from the hotel.
When I went to the lobby to see a gathering of 15 groggy-eyed, yet optimistic, wanna-be D-Wades and Durants ready to play ball, I knew it would turn out great. Three full cars of people rolled up to the indoor soccer/basketball facility around 8:00 am. Several different guys with different levels of skill came out and it made for a great time. There were new bonds being made between all of us, lots of fun, and a small handful of ankle and knee bleeds requiring follow-up treatments and bed rest. Afterwards, we got together for a group picture and I remember thinking to myself that all of this happened because my buddy and I just wanted to play some ball. But to me, this was more than just a pick-up game. This was getting together with people I hope to know my entire life… and in my opinion, everyone that came won.