Before going into the locker room, the team captain, whose name was Jenny, handed pre-cut pieces of construction paper and a roll of masking tape to a couple of her teammates. The girls used the paper to cover the glass windows of the doors leading onto the basketball court. While the windows were being covered, Jenny checked all the doors to make sure they were locked and properly latched so no one could enter the court from the outside during practice.
There was a very good reason for the precaution. The team uniform for all training sessions and after-school practices for the girls was shoes, socks, and nothing else. The girls with longer hair were permitted to wear a single hairband. Otherwise, from their ankles up, they practiced and exercised completely naked. Coach Strickland insisted on having an unrestricted view of her players’ bodies so she could observe their muscles, level of perspiration, and limb movements. At the team’s first practice of the year, their coach explained that she believed in “gymnos”, the ancient Greek idea that exercise and sports training should be done in the nude. After the girls signed up and the team roster was finished, she assigned the girls to read several articles that backed up the philosophy and physical benefits of nude exercise.
The girls took off their clothes in the locker room. Jenny made a joke about Eveline having to take off her basketball uniform instead of putting it on before team practice, but then chided her for missing the previous afternoon’s session. However, like the coach, the team captain seemed overly indulgent of Eveline’s short-comings as a player. She was genuinely relieved that Eveline had shown up that afternoon and was not yet off the team. As she put her clothes in her locker and latched the door shut, Eveline noticed Jenny’s dark eyes scanning her body.
Twelve naked high-school students filed out of the locker room and followed their equally-naked team leader onto the basketball court. The air blowing from the large fans on the ceiling felt cool on their exposed skin and reminded them of their nudity. Exercising in the nude had been extremely strange and intimidating for the first several practices, but by the end of the second week the girls were used to it. As the semester progressed, some of them would actually come to enjoy their sessions stretching and exercising without any hot or restrictive clothing.
Coach Strickland was waiting on the court as the teenagers rushed to get into position. She was a bit of a hypocrite, because while her team stripped naked, she had changed into gym sweats. She had a whistle around her neck, a clipboard in one hand and a leather paddle in the other. Strickland used it to deal with infractions and poor performance the moment they happened. Any team member not performing to her expectations could expect a vicious swat, (or swats) from that paddle on her bare sweaty bottom whenever she “disappointed” the coach.
When the team members lined up, Jenny called out each player by name. The girl had to throw up her arms and shout out:
“Here, Captain Jenny! I’m ready to practice and I’m ready to win! Who-ahh!”
The girls all knew the roll-call was totally unnecessary, but their coach liked the ritual and thought it helped set the mood for a successful training practice. Standing straight with their hands to their sides, the girls looked like they were in military formation, getting ready for a naked combat mission.
Jenny took her role as team captain very seriously. She was an excellent athlete, with a chip on her shoulder that made her particularly vicious on the court. She did not look like a typical female basketball player. She was Asian and petite, only 5’4″ tall, so opponents who were six inches taller did not take her seriously when they first saw her. However, girls from the other schools quickly learned that her size meant nothing. She had a thin, sinewy body, quick reflexes, and could move extremely fast. She couldn’t out-jump her opponents or dunk, but she could grab the ball, dodge under an opponent’s arms, and pass it off to a teammate in a flash. During the previous basketball season, a local sports commentator described her as a “miniature speed-boat moving among Spanish Galleons”.
Having Jenny as her captain was important to Strickland, because none of the other girls on the team was particularly tall. They were at a natural disadvantage when going up against larger opponents, but Strickland was convinced the height problem could be solved simply by changing tactics: moving fast, constantly passing the ball, and shooting baskets from a distance. Jenny’s style of playing was the key to her entire team’s strategy. All her teammates had to keep their eyes on her, to be ready for a quick pass, or to send her the ball so she could pass it to the girl who was in the best spot at the moment to make a basket. She had a system of signaling by positioning her fingers, flashing her eyes, and pursing her lips, to let her teammates know what she was about to do. There was hell to pay for any girl who wasn’t paying attention and ready when Jenny needed to move the ball and was signaling.
The strategy meant long hours in the gym choreographing dodges and complicated passes that usually involved all five players on the court. It meant learning and memorizing Jenny’s system of signaling, and also using quick signals to communicate with Jenny. It meant emphasizing long-shots, which were more important to the team than they would be to an ordinary group of basketball players. It meant that Coach Strickland’s girls had to work twice as hard in the gym, coordinate everything they did as a group, and avoid mistakes. It also meant that the girls had to accept their coach’s intense training schedule and discipline regimen.
The coach carefully monitored her players as they practiced to make sure they weren’t too tired to focus on coordinating their maneuvers. When they did start to get tired, there would be no break, however. Instead, they would simply change over to exercises that would not require so much concentration. The girls knew it had to be that way. They had to be in top physical condition if they could hope to win games by out-maneuvering and outlasting their taller opponents. They had to move fast and they had to move continuously. So, they had to train their bodies to meet the demands being placed upon them. The girls ran around the gym, when that got too tired to run, they stopped to do push-ups and sit-ups, then when their upper bodies gave out, they had to get up and run some more. The girls all knew that what they were doing was necessary if they didn’t want to make fools out of themselves and their school. However they secretly felt about their merciless coach and hyperactive team captain, they went along with whatever they were told to do.
Everyone knew that Strickland’s main goal was simply to make sure her players could overcome their height disadvantage and win games. However, there was more going on inside the coach’s mind than she let on to her team. The “gymnos” philosophy was only part of the reason she wanted the girls to conduct their practices in the nude. She enjoyed watching the naked girls as they exercised and moved around with the ball. The more the girls were sweaty and winded, the more of a turn-on that was for their coach. She loved seeing their wet matted hair, flushed red faces, heaving bare chests, and moist trembling breasts as they tried to catch their breath after a workout. She loved the smell of feminine perspiration and watching the sweat dripping down the young bodies of her players. And toward the end of the workout, when the exhausted girls were stretching and their sweaty vulvas and wet bottoms were spread and exposed… oh yes, that was so nice, such a lovely sight.
When they were finally finished with all the exercises and post-exercise stretching, the players collapsed on the floor from pure exhaustion. Invariably at least a couple of the students were reduced to tears when their ordeal finally ended. For several minutes the gym was filled with the gasping, groans, and coughs of girls who had endured total muscle fatigue and were struggling to recover.
Strickland was at her busiest at the end of each practice. While the girls lay on the gym mat gasping for air, drinking water, and recovering, the coach closely examined each of her players’ legs and feet, feeling hamstrings and muscles and looking for sprains and early signs of other possible sports injuries. If the coach determined that a player was in danger of over-exerting herself, she cut her enough slack to make sure she recovered.