BY STACY M. BROWN
Jenarie Davis-Middleton is a self-described unconventional writer who likes to share life experiences.
A wife and a mother of five, the Jacksonville University graduated noted that although her schedule is hectic, she tires as often as possible to incorporate quiet time to clear her thoughts. And, to write books.
Davis-Middleton has penned “How To: Play Basketball the Fun Way,” a 122-page expose accompanied with a host of “howto” photos that provide intriguing lessons on fundamental and expert-level hardwood acts like the two-hand chest pass, shooting a set-shot in the face of a defender, how to rebound and play defense properly.
Playing since age 12
“When you think of defense in basketball, what comes to mind? For me, playing defense was my favorite,” stated Davis-Middleton, a standout basketball player in middle school, high school and college.
“Playing defense prepared me to score on the offensive end. It’s exciting when you can stop the other team from scoring,” she exclaimed.
It wasn’t until she was 12 years old that Davis-Middleton said she learned how to play basketball. “I didn’t know how to shoot or dribble the ball,” she said, noting that her father, the musician Aaron Teel, taught her the importance of timing.
“Timing the ball is an art,” Davis-Middleton noted. “If you can time the ball right, you can steal the ball from other players any time. It’s not too difficult. All you have to do is have fun.”
The book details just how to time the basketball – always make sure you swipe at the ball with an open palm, hitting it upward with your fingertips. “Never swipe down,” Davis-Middleton explained. “If you do, the referee will most likely call a personal foul.”
Divided into 11 chapters and including a page on basketball terminology, a court diagram and a bonus feature on how Davis-Middleton earned a scholarship to Jacksonville University, the book is a comprehensive tutorial on playing basketball, but getting the most fun from the game.
Davis-Middleton’s journey toward publishing the book began in 2002, during her junior year in high school. She said Teel, and her mother, Stephanie Teel, were inspirations. Her father urged her to “write things down,” and her mother wouldn’t allow her to quit.
“When I was in college when I first felt weak, my mother left me handwritten notes,” Davis-Middleton recalled.
“She gifted me with somethings during those tough moments that I still have today. I promised that I’d stay focused and finish school, and I did. They helped me become the woman I am today.”
Pressed through pain
Davis-Middleton said she also learned her basketball skills by watching NBA games.
“Every chance that I had, I practice and learned from watching players like Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant,” Davis-Middleton said. “My dad and uncle taught me everything about the basic skills I needed to get better.”
She added that she needed all the encouragement she could muster initially trying out for the Jacksonville University Dolphins.
Before trying out, Davis-Middleton sprained her ankle.
“I drove to tryouts barely able to press on the gas pedal, but I ignored the pain and continued,” she said.
Before she arrived home from tryouts, the university coach had called her family with good news.
“Mommy and Daddy hugged me so tight, and we cried together,” Davis-Middleton said.
“Life experiences will teach you how to maneuver in society. Education improves your scope of thinking. Experience and education ties in together.”