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Common APP Essay- High School Basketball Chronicles


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I have just completed my 300 page autobiography. This is an excerpt from page 185-187......
Chapter 15
High School Basketball Chronicles

...... I fling the ball to Danish, anticipating a return- pass. The pass never comes. Despite being heavily mobbed by opposition defenders, he goes for his trademark Hook Shot- a real crowd pleaser. We can only watch in frustration as the ball is knocked out of his hand by the opposing point guard. The counter attack is vicious and catches our defense in disarray. I watch helplessly as their talisman scores on the layup. Danish's selfish game play had cost us the match yet again. As I leave the court dejected and depressed, I know that this will be my last match.

How did it come to this? As I drove home, I traced the history of Danish's affiliation with the team. Tall and good looking, Danish was the scion of a wealthy, landowning family that had been part of the political establishment for many decades. His exorbitant wealth and legacy- so potent in a feudal hierarchical structure like Pakistan's- required deference. People naturally listened to him. And we were no different. So when Danish decided to join the basketball team, there really was no question as to who would make all the decisions and lead the team.

Danish was talented for sure. Few could dribble the ball so meticulously and fewer still could execute the Jump Shot with such precision. But his leadership- so naturally assumed- was a disaster. Danish was irresponsible, selfish and egocentric. He would arrive late for training sessions or skip them entirely. Strategies and plays were chalked out entirely to suit Danish's style of play, with complete disregard for the team's strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, the team was disorganized, ill-disciplined and lacked cohesion.

The moment of truth was finally here. I could no longer continue under Danish's dictatorial, egocentric leadership. I rehearsed the words over a thousand times before finally calling Danish. I told him the truth. He took it as expected, blaming me for the team's problems. He tried to persuade me to continue but I refused flat out.

I knew there would be repercussions. I had already prepared myself for social ostracism and for life as a pariah. Heck, I could not even rule out the possibility of threatening phone calls. Surely this was the end of my basketball career. You simply could not have public confrontation with him and hope to get away unscathed.

The next step was to inform the rest of the team. Rather amazingly- even though we had never discussed this before- they told me they felt exactly the same way. Even more surprisingly we had somehow managed to qualify for the final. This was highly unexpected. In an incredible turn of events, the team unanimously voted for Danish's exclusion from the team.

Danish's exclusion meant that team members had to adapt to new playing positions- and quick. His adroitness was sorely missed by the team. But we persevered in our decision. His self righteousness and arrogance had cost the team before and had to now be punished. All decisions were now made with the general consensus of the team. New strategies were chalked out, ones more suited to the team's strengths. New plays were formulated. Grueling drills were held and penalties imposed on those who arrived late. So it was that we approached the final as a regimented, wholesome and more formidable outfit.

And we proved our worth. We played as a seamless unit, passing swiftly and unerringly. Our opponents didn't know what hit them, as we robbed their offence and scythed through their defense. The plan was implemented with clinical accuracy.
.......I fling the ball to Asad. He is immediately mobbed by opposing defenders. 10 seconds left. He flings the ball back to me. Adrenaline binds to my receptors. I bend my knees and straighten my shooting arm, as the ball rolls off my finger tips. I watch, in slow motion, as it approaches the rim. Swish! The crowd roars as the bell goes off. We win by 20 points. The crown is ours.

*******

Just a game but it defined me. Just a game but it taught me importance of upholding principles and taking risks. It led me to take the initiative against the deep roots of cultural biases that plague our society. Just a game but it taught me the importance of effective leadership, unyielding discipline and solid teamwork. Just a game but one that proved me to be a fighter.

*******

I close my eyes as my euphoric teammates engulf me in tight embrace. I find myself wondering if there was a broader lesson in what had happened with our team. Could it be that our country of 170 million people was struggling for similar reasons? Egotistical, corrupt leadership. Indiscipline. Inability of the masses to rise against this feudal injustice. Hmmm...Definitely something worth pondering over later. But right now, I must join in the festivities.....


Ok...So I'm really confused. Please tell me what you think about the content. And I know I've messed up the tenses. The first paragraph and the final 2 paragraphs are in the present tense and the rest of the essay is in the past tense. Please suggest how i can correct this. Cuz an autobiography is supposed be in the past tense but if I put the 'paragraphs describing the game into past tense', it sounds very weird.

bilal530:
Cuz an autobiography is supposed be in the past tense but if I put the 'paragraphs describing the game into past tense', it sounds very weird.

^it does not sound weird.
Read any autobiography. The defining moments of the author's career are described in the past tense.
Your use of the present tense in this essay, starting from the very first line, seems more like a failed attempt to be dramatic for a college admission essay.
Thankyou.
But please tell me what d'you think of the essay holistically. the idea? the content? Maybe I should do away with the autobiography idea altogether? How much does the 'awkward tenses' detract from the overall reading?
.......I fling the ball to Asad. He is immediately mobbed by opposing defenders.
10ten seconds left. He flings the ball back to me. Adrenaline binds to my receptors. I bend my knees and straighten my shooting arm, as the ball rolls off my finger tips. I watch, in slow motion, as it approaches the rim. Swish! The crowd roars as the bell goes off. We win by
20twenty points. The crown is ours.
Here is a place where you can switch to the active voice:
His adroitness was sorely missed by the team. The team sorely missed his adroitness.

I really like this; it is great narration, and the style is engaging.

Wow, it is such a serious theme, and it is so well explained. This really shows some good skill as a writer.

I think it is okay to start in the present tense and then transition to the past tense. Tense changes are okay when they are done gracefully, and I think you did it rather gracefully. And as Faisal said, it creates a dramatic feeling when you start by writing in the present tense. I think it sounds good when you use the tenses this way; maybe you are being too critical of yourself.

:-)
Jan 16, 2010, 04:13pm   #
Thanks Kevin. Your compliments mean a lot to me.
I'd already sent this off 'as is' to 4 colleges to meet the 1st Jan deadline. I thought I'd be make corrections for the rest of my colleges but turns out the common app doesn't even allow editing once it has been sent! But I have my hopes up now, since you like it :)
Jan 16, 2010, 04:31pm   #
bilal530,

I had to send mine to a few before it was completely polished as well. However, I did find out earlier today that you can create an ALTERNATE VERSION of your common app that transfers all of your data over, and then you can upload a completely different essay or just an edited version.

To do it, go here and follow the instructions (it doesn't look like it, but it is a direct link from the common app support center website):

http://s3.parature.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=5524

After successfully creating an alternate app, you will then have to 'transfer' the colleges over from app 1 to app 2 (go to the 'colleges' tab and under each you will now see a 'move college' option and then you just click that and choose the move button). It's really easy!



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