tagRomanceThe Spirit Girl

The Spirit Girl


I come from a basketball family; the game is in my blood. Not much of a player, mind you; I couldn't even crack the starting lineup in high school, despite getting pointers from pros since I was 9. Oh I can shoot the rock, but at six foot-nothing I was too short to play the 3 and not quick enough to guard the 2. My name is Davis Rutherford III; and my grandfather and namesake was the founder of pro basketball's Jammers franchise, and my dad has been the club president since before I was born. Outside of my family, though, most people don't know who I am--and I like it that way. Ever since I left for college, I've just introduced myself to people as Dave; there are guys I've hung with for years that still don't know who I am. Sure, I admit I've pulled out the full name in a bar sometimes when I was trying to impress some co-ed, but frankly most of the time they just thought I was lying. I guess I just don't look and act the way people expect from someone in my position.

As the eldest son of the eldest son, I am the heir to the franchise. I'm a lucky guy, and no one understands that better than I do. But grandpa doesn't like to play favorites, so to balance the fact that we stand to inherit the most valuable piece of the portfolio, my dad and I haven't received other things; I'm the only grandchild without a trust fund. I'm not trying to cry poor; we've always lived comfortably living on dad's salary as club president. What I AM saying is that although I stand to own a professional basketball team, my upbringing was decidedly middle class. The other grandkids tool around in Beamers while I went drive a hand-me-down Accord; they attend prestigious private schools while I went to State. I guess that's why a lot of girls don't believe me when I tell them someday this franchise will be mine. I have no grounds for complaint, but I'd be lying if I didn't sometimes wish that I had cash to flash like my cousins do, because they sure as hell get laid a lot more than I do.

I had one semester left of school, and I was home for Christmas break--working. I'd been doing odd jobs with the club since I was old enough to work; my dad and grand-dad want me to work my way through the family business to learn how things work. I'm fine with that, because I want the Jammers to be a contender when eventually I'm at the helm. But this year was different. Rather than filling in at group sales or the box office, I had to do an internship as my final requirement before graduating, and Dad set me up as an analyst for the scouting department. Dad and grandpa had watched statistical analysis transform baseball management, but it hadn't had as much of an impact in hoops. They hoped that I could use data mining to discover nuggets (no pun intended) of information that could give us an edge in personnel selection. Since neither of them knew much about statistics, the project was turned over to me. And with the trade deadline looming in mid-February, they wanted me to get started right away. So two days after my fall finals, I was spending eight hours a day in the basement of the arena trying to figure out how to use the software instead of taking a much-needed break. At least it kept me busy. I would be here all Spring, and my girlfriend of two years was looking at Law Schools for the fall. It just didn't look like we'd end up in the same city, and we both decided it would be best to just be friends. If I wasn't here, I'd probably be sitting my parents' living room, moping and watching TV.

The best part of being back in town was being able to watch games again. For the last four years I only got to see the team play over breaks and the odd really important game I'd drive back for. Quite a change from when I would see every home game every year. Plus the beer was free in grandpa's private box, although that was a privilege I was careful not to abuse. The same could not be said of my cousins, who liked to crash the suite with girls they were trying to impress.

The first game I was back to see was against Dallas on December 22. With Christmas coming, grandpa was even up from Florida, where he spent most of the cold winter. He loved to tell stories about players and games of old. I loved to hear them, but unfortunately by now I'd heard all his stories at least twice. My dad stopped by the owner's box for a while too, but had to leave during the second quarter on business. Grandpa went to see what was going on at halftime, leaving me with my cousin Ricky and this girl Janelle. I turned around to make polite conversation, to find Ricky's tongue already in her mouth and his hand sliding up under her midriff-baring shirt. I swallowed my words, turned my stool back towards the floor, and grabbed new beer from the ice bucket on the counter in front of me. Feeling awkward in my own box, I focused my eyes forward to avoid intruding on the heavy petting going on behind me.

Out on the floor, the half-court shot contest had just ended and the Jammer Spirit dance team were now doing a routine. Avoiding the activity going on behind me, I watched their routine more closely than I usually do. They're very talented, but the Spirit Girls were just founded the same year I left for school; so they were still pretty low on the list of things I associated with the team. They were something to keep the fans entertained, especially on nights where the team was playing like crap--which was all too often in recent years. Things were looking up, though, with our new point guard and lottery pick Marshall Jacobs playing like a front-runner for rookie of the year. The team was up and down while he learned the pro game, but at least now there was again hope for Jammers fans.

Watching the Spirit Girls do their dance, one girl in particular caught my eye. She was in the middle row, on the end nearest to me. She had medium-length blonde hair, a seemingly permanent smile and exuded energy and perkiness. But what caught my eye was, well, her abs. The Spirit Girls were wearing a uniform I'd not seen before (they have a lot of them); it basically consisted of a white sports bra and hot pants with team-color piping on the sides and our logo emblazoned on the chest. They were all hot, but whenever this girl bent a certain way, for just a moment you could see a clearly defined six-pack of tightly toned muscle. I looked at her more closely, and noticed that she had some awful nice, slender thighs too. My attention locked in on her. The song ended, and even in the pose they took when the music stopped her abs were subtly noticeable, and now I noticed too the delicate, feminine curve of her waist. Wow, did that one have a body on her.

The girls picked up their pom-poms, jumped up and down, then took their positions on the sidelines as the second half was about to start. Fortunately she sat on my side, so I kept watching her. Again if she moved in a certain way that amazing belly would show for just a second. Wow. My mind wandered for a moment as I fantasized about how that belly might feel to the touch...but then Jacobs set up a nice alley-oop for a big jam, and the crowd reaction returned my focus to the game.

Grand-dad didn't come back until the fourth quarter. The Jammers were holding tough against one of the best teams in the league; it was exciting. I turned around when I heard him the door open—and realized Ricky and the girl were nowhere to be seen. Did they leave? Normally I'd have heard the door open... that's when I heard the noises coming from the bathroom. Un-be-fucking-leivable, I thought. I glanced at grand-dad, but with the crowd noise he'd had to turn off his hearing aid. He may not look it, but he's 70 now. Grandpa settled in to watch the end of the game; good thing he didn't know what was going on. I shook my head at the audacity of my own family: to be getting' busy here, now, during the game? It was the fourth quarter and the Jammers had just taken the lead, for crissakes—how could you be thinking of sex at a time like this?


The next day at work, I looked up the Jammer Spirit page on our website. They had each girl individually pictured; the girl I had been watching was now revealed to be Samantha. I clicked on the bio—it said she was 21 like me, was born in town, and was in her second year on the squad. There was a nice full-length photo of her in uniform (similar to the night before but a solid color instead of white) that I copied to my desktop. Then I got back to work—kind of. It was the last day before the holiday break for the front office staff, so there was a fair amount of going through the motions, myself included. Especially since my office was downstairs, in a vacant office intended for an assistant PT position that no longer existed. It gave me great access to the locker room, but when the team was around the noise often distracted me, and when they weren't around it was quiet as a tomb.

About 2:00 I went to the john and heard music seeping in from the arena floor. I peeked my head in as I headed back to my office and found it was the dance team, working on a new routine. They were all in little red dresses with Santa caps, putting the finishing touches on a new number for the nationally televised game on Christmas Day. It seemed the dresses were causing a problem; they were used to wearing shorts, and they had to keep changing the choreography so that the girls weren't flashing undie to the crowd. I stood in the ramp where the team came onto the court, watching the girls practice, keeping my eyes open for undie flashes. Samantha was on the far side from me, but I focused on her nonetheless. No one noticed I was there. Then all at once, I heard the team leader/choreographer yell out "OK, let's practice the quick change!" All at once, a dozen girls were running straight for me. I froze, feeling like I'd been discovered peeping. That's when I noticed a pile of brown felt reindeer antlers sitting on the floor next to me. As soon as the girls cleared the floor, they started ripping off their Santa hats—not as easy as it sounds, since most had to be pinned into place. I took a step back to get out of their way. The first two dropped their hats and grabbed a set of antlers, but the third one saw me standing there and pushed it into my chest, saying "hold this." The other girls then followed suit, so that suddenly I was holding a stack of Santa hats. Eight of the girls then raced out the back of the ramp. There was a huge backup as girls tried to grab an antler from the floor, running into each other. A burst of giggling broke out at the absurdity of it. Apparently the idea was that Santa would appear on the second floor (not very many kids have courtside seats), and the girls were supposed to be his reindeer. I heard the leader yell out "three minutes and thirty seconds—way too slow. You have to do it in 2:30, tops. Let's try it again."

In the meantime the four girls that weren't on reindeer duty were looking at me funny. There wasn't supposed to be anyone else in the arena. "Hi," I waved nervously, "I'm Dave. I'm an intern in scouting department. I was just coming back from the bathroom and heard the music, so I stopped to see what was happening. Sorry if I bothered you." That answer relaxed them—they probably thought I was a stalker at first. The two closest to me even introduced themselves; that's how I first met Heather and Jenna. I had no idea that Jenna was Samantha's best friend and roommate. The others now filtered back down from the second floor, grumbling and talking as they took off their antlers. I passed the hats in my hands back out again; I got some funny looks, but no one said anything except a polite "thank you."

"All right, now back in positions," the leader barked. "We have to cut sixty seconds off the change. Now, cue the music..."

"Hold on Susie," I heard a voice say. A dancer I would later learn was Amanda, the team captain, spoke up. "It would help if there was someone to pass out the reindeer ears as we ran by. What slowed us down was fighting to get a pair out of the pile." I heard mish-mashed rumbling of agreement. Then I heard the leader, whose name I now knew was Susie, say "there's not going to be anyone around on game night..." There was more rumbling, then I heard her ask "is there someone there now?"

They had all seen me, so it was too late to hide. I stepped out of the tunnel and gave a little wave. "Don't mind me. I'm Dave, an intern in scouting. My office is down here, and I just heard the music and stopped to see what was going on."

"If you had someone like Dave holding the ears and passing them out, we'd make the change a lot faster," Amanda explained. "Dave, are you going to be at the game?"

"Yes..." I answered hesitantly, not liking where this was going.

"Will you have access to the tunnel?" she pressed.

"Are you asking me if I could hold your antlers during the game?" No one needed to answer that, of course they were. I imagined getting all kinds of grief from my cousins—but I also saw all of the girls looking hopefully my way, most importantly Samantha. You can argue that the little head overruled the big one if you like, but I heard myself agreeing to be their antler-holder. The second run-through they did in 2:20. I was stuck with the job now.

On Christmas Day I came down from the box with ten minutes to go in the half and watched the girls dance from the ramp, holding twelve pairs of reindeer antlers. The song ended, and twelve breathless spirit girls raced over to me and swapped Santa hats for antlers. Two minutes later I heard a roar punctuated with the excited squeals of young children; perhaps it had been worth all the fuss after all. Everything went as planned. What we hadn't practiced practice was what would come next. They didn't tell me that they were headed for a costume change, so I was still standing there holding the Santa hats when the team came out to start the second half. Most of them didn't remember my name, but did recognize me as the guy using the office at the back of the training room, so I got plenty of razzing.

"Aww, are those for us?" Marshall Jacobs kidded. "Lookin' good rook," said Scott Henin, a veteran power forward. "Do you take coats too?" said another, that kind of thing. I just smiled and nodded good-naturedly. What the hell—I looked silly, why try to be macho about it? It wasn't until a few minutes later when the first girls returned to the ramp that they realized they hadn't accounted for getting the hats back. "Oh... you didn't need to stand here holding them this whole time," Amanda apologized.

"Sure, now you tell me, after the players have all had their jabs at me standing here," I teased.

"I'm sorry. Here, I'll take them and put them in our locker room. And thanks again for doing this."

I handed her the pile, then made an exaggerated bow. "It was my pleasure to serve, my dear." That got a couple of giggles from the latecomers, a group that included the lovely Samantha. Amanda returned from stowing the hats, and I pressed flat against the wall as they stormed back out onto the floor, getting the crowd pumped up for the second half. I stood watching appreciatively, the girls' looking even more impressive in action from this close. I watched until second-half tipoff, then headed back up to the owner's box.


A few days later, I heard talk wafting in from the training room—about women, as usual. But this perked up my ears, because they were talking about the Spirit Girls, and which ones they wanted to bone (all of them). But from that conversation I learned that some of the girls would be heading over to the 5th Quarter across the street after the game. I should have guessed that; there were three bars within a block of the arena, but the 5th Quarter was considered the nicest, and so that's where the hot girls went. Because that's where the hot girls went, that's where the players that were inclined to go out after home games went, which of course drew even more hot girls... so it was clearly the hopping place to be after games. Furthermore, after 10 there was a hefty cover charge for guys but ladies were always free, so there was a very favorable gender ratio for a guy looking to score--like, say a professional basketball player.

After the next game, I hung around the arena for a little while, then walked across the street to the 5th Quarter. It was pricey by our town's standard for a guy to hang out there, but it was close by and worth the investment if it meant a chance to meet some of those Spirit girls. I didn't recognize anyone when I first got there, although there was already an impressive display of femininity dressed to impress (and in some cases, dressed to undress). I grabbed a beer and took up a position along the back wall to wait and see what would happen. Because there weren't that many guys in the joint, I found myself in the strange position of catching chicks sneaking glances at me rather than the other way around. One of them was very cute, and I was just starting to play a little game of eye-tag when four of the Spirit girls walked in wearing their team-issue warm-up suits. They were white with team-color piping; there was no team logo, rather there was a huge logo on the back advertising the brand of beer that was the major sponsor of the Jammer Spirit team. I watched and waited for them to get in, mill about, and settle on a spot. When one of them finally put down her bag on a chair by the corner of the bar I moved my way leisurely over towards them. Stay cool, I told myself, but my heart was thumping because one of them was Samantha.

They were talking amongst themselves, tuning out the stares of all the men in the place. A few were surely working up the nerve to approach the pack, but I was there first. "Hey ladies," I announced, "not a bad game tonight. Came up short in the end, but we're getting closer, huh?" The two girls whose backs were to me turned, wearing "go away" expressions on their faces. But Jenna recognized me, and shouted "Dave!" Samantha was trying to place me when she heard the name; the others didn't recognize me at all. "What's the matter, you don't recognize me without a stack of reindeer antlers?" Then everyone remembered knew who I was, and I was greeted with that unique, whooping squeal that girls in groups emit when in the mood to party. I was OK to graze with the herd.

They returned to their previous conversation, which was about the team. They were trying to figure out their schedules; the team was heading on the road after Saturday's game, and they weren't sure when they'd be back. I always knew the home schedule by heart (it's my fucking team!) so I filled them in: January 6. "Are you sure?" one asked.

"Look it up if you want," I said confidently. One was already searching her purse for a schedule anyway. When she found it, she confirmed the date.

"Wow, you knew that off the top of your head?" Samantha asked.

Making sure to make eye contact, I answered "my office is in the training room area—I like to know when the guys are going to be around. When the team's in town the place is noisy, when they're gone the place is a tomb."

"So what exactly do you do for the team?" asked one of the others.

I answered for all, but skewed my attention towards Samantha. "I'm interning for the scouting department. I working on better ways to predict player performance."

"Sounds technical," one of them wrinkled her nose.

"It's based on advanced statistical models, but it's all done by the computer. I just feed in the data and try to make sense out of what it spits out."

"That would be beyond me," Samantha sighed. "I had to drop Intro Stats last semester because I couldn't understand it. But I need it to graduate, so I have to try again this Spring."

"I'm sure you'll get it—it takes a lot of people more than one try." I smiled in a friendly way. "Then one day, someone says something in just the right ways and aha, the light bulb goes on."

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