Open Tryouts for Erie BayHawks

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By John Denton
Sept. 5, 2014

ORLANDO -- For just a second, cock your head back, close your eyes and allow the words of that great poet, Eminem, to wash over you. (No, I can’t believe I just typed those words considering that my taste in music is distinctly country and I had to Google ``Eminem’’ to figure out how to spell it).

Where were we? Oh yeah, Eminem. The words from ``Lose Yourself’’ come to mind when thinking about today’s topic: Upcoming tryouts for the Erie BayHawks as offered through the Orlando Magic.

Look, if you had one shot/

One opportunity/

To seize everything you ever wanted/

One moment/

Could you capture it? Or just let it slip?

Eminem was referring to his first big chance at breaking into the rap game back in 1995, a story that was detailed brilliantly in the 2002 movie, ``8 Mile.’’ Think whatever you want about rap music, but ``Lose Yourself’’ was an absolutely genius song and that was only further confirmed when it won the Academy Award for ``Best Original Song.’’

Really, it’s a song that is so much more than just a cool beat to chill out to or a snappy flow to help you forget about slogging along on the treadmill. Even now, some 12 years later, Eminem’s anthem perfectly sums up one’s need to seize the day, capture the moment and always try to live out your dreams. Again, cock your head back, close your eyes and allow the words to empower you.

You better Lose Yourself/

In the music, the moment/

You own it, you better never let it go/

You only get one shot/

Do not miss your chance/

To blow this opportunity that comes once in a lifetime/

You better Lose Yourself.

Why, you wonder am I reciting the words to a 12-year-old song that everyone has heard hundreds of times? Because ``Lose Yourself’’ is a very fitting anthem to an opportunity that the Orlando Magic are offering through their new Developmental League affiliate, the Erie (Pa.) BayHawks.

The Magic recently entered into an agreement with the BayHawks so that the franchise will be the organization’s single-affiliate minor league squad. The Magic will use the Developmental squad to cultivate young players and monitor other assets with NBA potential.

The Magic and the BayHawks are holding two open tryouts – one at Orlando’s Barnett Park on Sept. 14 and another at Erie’s Junker Center on Sept. 21 – for anyone interested in living out a dream of trying out for a professional basketball team. (All of the info for tryout registration – such as the $150 entry fee – can be found at ErieBayHawks.com).

When the Magic and Bayhawks say ``Open Tryouts’’ they mean that the auditions are for anyone with aspirations of living out their dreams, hoping to play big-time basketball or just wanting to scratch an item off the bucket list. It’s truly open to anyone from the former pro player to the one-time college standout to the high school washout who still has ``Hoop Dreams.’’

These kinds of tryouts usually attract the same sort of people: The former college player who didn’t make it for one reason or another; the talented player who fell through the cracks when life got in the way; and the delusional 35-year-old who still thinks he can play professionally even though he’s wearing braces on every joint. Of course, the odds of making a professional basketball team off a park tryout are about as astronomical as LeBron James being elected mayor of Miami anytime soon.

But just imagine having the opportunity to display your skills on a basketball court in front of an actual NBA GM (Rob Hennigan) and coaches (Magic head coach Jacque Vaughn and BayHawks head man Bill Peterson), who are scheduled to be present. Imagine getting on a roll in a shooting drill and draining several 3-pointers in a row or flipping a scoop shot in the lane high off the glass for two points. Imagine timing a shot just right and swatting it into the bleachers around the courts and hearing the ohhhs and ahhhs.

Do any or all of that during the open tryouts over the next two weeks and imagine – if for just a few seconds – about what it would be like to actually earn a shot at playing basketball professionally. For those of us who have played in high school and/or college or still bang around in the old-man rec leagues, the desire to play basketball never fully leaves you; it’s just that your knees and ankles have a harsh way of smacking you upside the head with a dose of reality.

So, if you think you can bury a 3-pointer, still have a nice cross-over dribble or you are some 7-foot-7 guy who has been living under a rock the last 10 years, what do you have to lose in going through the Sept. 14 tryout in Orlando or the Sept. 21 tryout in Erie, Pa.?

I hate to break it to 99.9 percent of you, but you’re almost certainly not going to get an invite to training camp. In fact, hang onto that day job just in case. But what if you are a player – and players know who they are – could you take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right before you?

Again, crank up the Eminem and ``Lose Yourself’’ in the dreams of playing basketball professionally.

Look, if you had one shot/

One opportunity/

To seize everything you ever wanted/

One moment/

Could you capture it? Or just let it slip?

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