“I’m gonna be a pro.”

By Sally Poole

In fourth grade we lived in Holly Park, which is part of the Seattle Housing Authority. We just called it “the projects.” Mom, a high school drop out, was recently divorced with four kids. We were really poor and didn’t mind at all – except we had to eat powdered milk on the commodity oatmeal we had for breakfast every morning. At Holly Park, we had tons of other kids to play with and learned all kinds of new things.

One of our neighbors and my best friend was Tonya. Tonya’s mom would iron her hair in the morning to straighten it. My sister and I would beg her to iron our hair too. We liked it because it made our hair warm. She’d just laugh at us and iron our straight hair too.

Tonya’s brother, Mike was older than us and he was a complete mystery. He would bounce his basketball all the time and tell us frequently, “I’m gonna be a pro.” We had NO IDEA what on earth he was talking about. We tried to find out what a pro was. We even asked adults, but out of context, they had no idea what we were talking about either. You have to remember this was in the 1960’s. Professional sports had not yet become the big business it is today – well, not that we were aware of anyway.

Years later I realized Mike wanted to be a pro basketball player, make good money and have respect.

I started thinking that maybe we should encourage all of our young kids to become a pro. Professionals at something – anything! It would encourage them to work hard on their dream career, practice, maybe go to college or a trade school that they hadn’t considered before. To shoot a little higher (pardon the basketball pun) for a larger goal.

I had no idea what I would do with my life when I was in fourth grade, but I’m proud that I became a pro in my field. I hope Mike became a pro too. I wish all of our kids could grow up to be pros, earn the money they want and get the respect they’ve dreamed of.

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