Forget the Knicks, Here Are the Chicks

by Jazmine Hughes
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any tween girl who goes by “Flash” is a better person than you ever will be, and, my God, if she also has friends nicknamed Koko, Beans, and Megatron, then you might as well pack your bags, because there’s a new queen in town, and it sure as hell isn’t you. These are some of the members of the Central Illinois Xpress basketball team, recently profiled by the New York Times as part of its “Not the Knicks” series, in which Scott Cacciola takes a sabbatical from reporting on the “woeful Knicks as he checks out some of the good basketball around the country.” (Should someone call in Justice Kara Brown for a quick session of Shade Court, because DANG.) They are all girls, and they are here to kick your ass.

One of the driving forces behind the team’s success—they’re currently 8-1—is their coach Tariq Toran, who thinks that the girls competing against boys is just another way to challenge themselves. Before coaching the CIX team, Toran served as an assistant coach to a semi-pro men’s team but grew tired of their puerility. And here comes the first contender for Best Shade in a Sentence, Print or Web, of 2015: “In search of a more mature audience, he turned to a group of 9-year-old girls.”

Later, Mr. Toran gathered everyone in a semicircle and reiterated a goal for the second half of the season: improved man-to-man pressure.

“We’re in the rectangle of what?” he asked, his voice rising.

“War!” his players shouted in high-pitched unison.

“That’s right!” he said. “We’re in the rectangle of war, and we’re in it to win it!”

The idea that there are a bunch of young girls crushing gender barriers and the sexist ideals of young boys (“We’d walk in, and all the boys would be like, ‘We’re playing girls?’ ” said Anne Rupnik, a point guard. “Then we’d beat them. Some of them cried.”) fills me with joy. Meet you guys in the rectangle of war.

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