“Focus on your match,” said Bayside High School handball team coach, Anthony Grimm.
“I won the 17 and Under Singles division,” Kadeem Bush replied.
“Now that’s focus,” Mr. Grimm said.
Focus was part of it, but not so much. It was self-confidence that he had to thank.
Bush was seeded number twenty-six out of the thirty-three entrants. He had just come back from vacation, yet he knew he was going to take home 1st place.
“I thought I was going to win. I knew I just had to get to the finals and play Justin,” Bush said.
Justin Chen, who was seeded first, indeed made it to the finals. He and Bush often train together which made their playing styles no secret to each other. If he hadn’t known Chen, he would have “[left] him under ten.”
To defeat Chen, Bush forced him deep into the court, hindering his chances of killing the ball. When the opportunity arose, Bush put the ball away first.
Bush plays big ball only because at his alma mater, Edward R. Murrow High School, there was no handball team. Murrow focuses on the arts, but Bush did everything but the arts. Instead, he focused on accounting, music, and chess.
If there had been a handball team, he would have been an ace ball player. Bush does not plan on practicing ace ball because he intends to receive an A-player card in two years.
When Bush was just 13 years old, he had his whole handball career planned out: become a big ball “A”-player in six year and a small ball “A”-player in eight. His reason for choosing six years was very arbitrary; it was because he liked the number six.
Ask Bush about his plan, and he will tell you, “I will become an A-player in two years.”
That is the attitude Bush upheld during his game against Chen. Bush is very sure of himself because he knows himself and what he is capable of very well. He knows that if he practices hard, he’ll get results.
None of his opponents was able to score double digits on Bush, including second seeded Michael Zhou. Bush’s comments throughout his game against Zhou were not very good examples of excellent sportsmanship.
“He got into my head…I just got annoyed by his comments because it was frustrating me so I couldn’t focus on my game,” Zhou said.
Bush rose victorious in his quarterfinals game against Zhou, 21-9. After the game, Zhou asked for a rematch to redeem himself.
“I told him, ‘I will spot [you] seven [points], and if I win you don’t prove anything anymore,’” Bush said.
Bush defeated Matthew Chu, 21-8, in the semifinals. It was 8 p.m., and Chu was exhausted. He was told to arrive at 8 a.m., but did not get to play until 4:30 p.m.
“I was standing out in the sun at Coney, waiting to play my next match and thinking that I would be on soon,” Chu said.
By the time he had to play Bush, he wanted to go home.
Bush had never before played in the Sky Bounce/USHA/ICHA National Big-Ball One-Wall Championships because he didn’t feel quite ready. In 2011, he proved that he was more than ready.