11 / 365 – Magic for the team

JOHN CROSS

It’s not so bad for me here, not like it is out west. Here, some of the older ones stare at me sometimes. One asked me if all Indians are so tall. I said, ‘The Ojibwe are a nation of giants. That’s why we mostly live up in Canada.’ He just nodded. We’re all around and people don’t see us unless we’re tall like me, I guess. A few older people have asked me if I have an Indian name. When I first came back I used to tell them, ‘Luke Warmwater.’ I’d smile, for a hint. Most of them would look at me with big eyes, trying to figure out what it meant. My uncle was here with me earlier this summer and I said that someone once. Then I thought it wasn’t a good idea to make that kind of joke when I’m trying to get a teaching job.

I’m still just a substitute. Teaching English for the whole year but just a substitute. A lot of people are happy I’m coaching. Maybe we’ll start winning again. Not sure they want me teaching their children how to use their own language. The part of me that likes to be a trickster sometimes, I think, maybe I should pretend I have some kind of magic to make us win again. I think some people might believe it. Maybe the team would even believe it. They’re going to need something. None of them know how to drive for the basket without fouling everybody on their way. And three-point shooting. You’d think I was asking them to make shots from Manitoba. At least they practice, and they listen. Some of them are on the football team and I won’t see them until November. We don’t have enough to go around for all the teams. The others, every afternoon, they practice. They are getting better.

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