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April 12, 2004

Spring Camp 2004

Spent the weekend in Champaign for Spring Camp/MSA Central Zone conference. Mashallah, I was really impressed with the conference in terms of organization and diversity of speakers that presented. Mad props to Feroze Khan and Junaid Rahman (both are single, btw…) for putting together an off-the-wall conference. As usual, Shaykh Husain and Dr. Jackson stole the show with two powerful back-to-back sessions on Sunday morning to cap off the whole weekend. I went in to be a mild-mannered participant to soak up some knowledge and rekindle the dying flame of faith in my heart and instead ended up getting jacked to recite, lead all the prayers, speak until Shaykh Husain arrived, and winning 2nd in the basketball tournament.

The worst was having to speak on Saturday night until Shaykh Husain arrived. Poor guy, he was coming from an East Zone conference wherein all the speakers didnt show up on Friday so he ended up speaking for 20 out of 24 hours, then flew back in at 12:30 pm Saturday to Chicago, then drove down to Champaign. He was running late, and the audience had already gathered so they asked me with 2 minutes notice to come and stall until he arrived. I ended up just sharing my thoughts on the theme of the conference (“The Muslim Mosaic: Step Back and Take a Look”)… after rambling for about 10 minutes, I was ecstatic and embarassed to see Shaykh Husain walk in and have to hear someone like me, not even fit to be compared to his shadow, speak for even those 5 minutes. I quickly wrapped up and turned it over to him and watched in spellbound amazement as he weakly approached the mic and gave his speech. The man was so exhausted and so tired, yet he still was committed to his word to come down and share his advice. Even though he only spoke for like 20 minutes, he gave simple and practical advice to initiate change in our lives that really served as the foundation for all the change this conference sought to bring about.

As far as the basketball tournament goes, I’m more disappointed than happy, even though I ought to be pretty happy considering how we bounced back as a team. When the tournament started Friday night, our team (“We Already Prayed Asr” or “WAPA” for short) got off to a really slow start.

Aside about the team name: The “We Already Prayed Asr” franchise was started at the UIC-MSA tournament in 2003. When I signed us up, they wanted a team name and I couldn’t think of one. I tried to think of something original besides the trite team names that people use in tournaments when suddenly someone shouted out through a bullhorn: “If anyone hasn’t prayed Asr, please do so immediately since the games will start and continue until Maghrib.” Hence… WAPA was founded… and won 1st place in that tournament and tied for 3rd in the MEC winter tournament.

Spring Camp WAPA roster: Kamran Riaz, Rehan Riaz, Isaac Qureshi, Asad Vaince, Ibrahim Shamsi, and Meraj Alvi.

This time around, WAPA was expected to do well. As a team also, we walked in a little over-confident of our past successes and expected to win easily. As the hadith goes, “Nothing elevates itself without God lowering it”, we got off to a horrible start Friday night. We won our first game by only one point, and then dropped the next two games. The second loss was horrible, since we only scored 3 points as a team in a 20 minute game. The situation was dire, and confidence was shot. I had to have a team meeting and chew out the guys to get their heads back in the game and start playing for real if we were serious about actually winning. Considering that our last game that night was against DMC, we really had to buckle down and play well since this was a damn good team. Alhamdulillah, we were able to dig down and rally together as a team and we beat DMC to finish 2-2 on Friday night, heading into Saturday.

As Saturday started, we were seeded #5 out of 10 teams. I think the lower seed actually helped us, since we were forced to play real basketball. We had to face team UIC in the first round and we came out blazing to bring it together and win that game. The next game was against DMC again, and this time we finally played like the WAPA of the past and won that game as well, bringing us to the semifinals where we had to face St. Louis Ummah. This team also was loaded with some ballers and the game was close throughout. With the score tied with 10 seconds left, we had a defensive lapse and they scored with 3 seconds in the game. I called timeout and drew up a play to get Asad open for a shot to tie the game and force overtime. As we tried to get the ball in, Asad was covered and the only place Meraj could throw the ball was to Rehan at halfcourt. Rehan gets the ball at halfcourt, dribbles up and shoots a running shot from way out… as the play was unfolding, I had lost hope since our plan was busted, and as Rehan threw up a running shot, what remaining hope I had was quickly dying…

… but wait… his shot looks like it has the right rotation on it… its online… and it DROPS! oh man, the whole gym erupted and pandemonium ensued. even though it only tied the game, we had new life to face overtime. Overtime also ended in a tie, and due to time limitations, we were forced to go to a best of 5 shots shootout. Their player shot first and hit 2 of 5 shots from the three-point line. Rehan steps up to shoot, knowing that he’s gotta at least make 2 shots to force another round. So he shoots his first shot… miss. Second shot… miss. Now we’re all getting worried since he has to at least hit 2 of 3 to force another round. Third shot… hits it. Fourth shot… hits it! I’m thinking, “YESS, at least we got another round of shooting.” So I’m not thinking too much of the 5th shot…. BAM, it falls in, and we win the game and go to the finals.

Now, as far as the finals go… I’d prefer not to talk about it since we were winning the whole time despite the horrible one-sided calls that were going against us everytime down the floor. The worst was the offensive foul called on Rehan with less than 10 seconds left (you DONT call offensive fouls under 10 seconds in a game…), allowing them to dribble down and throw up a miraculous shot that tied the game and forced OT. Ideally, we shoulda played an extra 2 minutes, but since the gym was closing, we were forced to have a shootout… except this time, instead of best of 5 shots, it was one person shoots and the other person has to match. So Rehan shot first in the first round and missed, and so the did the other guy. Now, in the second round, what should have happened is that the other guy ought to have shot first with Rehan shooting second, but the refs said Rehan has to shoot first again. So he hits his shot, but the other guy also makes his shot as well. Third round, again, Rehan’s like, the other guy oughta shoot first in this round at least, but no luck, Rehan has to shoot first again. This time he misses, and the other guy makes it… giving them the championship. Retarded… the final game had the worst officiating ever and was settled on a hit/miss shootout. Khayr, I should be happy for 2nd at least (considering our crappy start), but we deserved 1st and I still feel we got robbed.

The worst part of all this was that I parked my car at the Masjid during the weekend, thinking that it would be safe there. I find out on Sunday morning that someone wrote all over the back windshield in blue window chalk “We Skipped Asr… B**CH!” As if this wasnt bad enough, I saw it on Sunday morning and was running late for the Shaykh Husain session so I didnt bother stopping at a gas station to wash it off. I drove to the lecture and after the lecture, they needed someone to take Shaykh Husain back to his hotel so I volunteered. As he and I were walking back to the car, I realized what was on the windshield, and I felt ashamed again and said to him to please disregard what’s on the windshield. He asked what that was all about, and I told him the story of our team name and how someone must have done it as a dumb joke. Thankfully, he just laughed about it and said, “they should’ve just wrote ‘We skipped Fajr’, since there wasn’t anyone at Fajr this morning.” Man… that was embarassing… to drive a person like that with that junk on my windshield. If I find out who did that… Anyway, Sunday ended with a hyped up barbecue and we got back in town in the evening.

Anyway, Spring Camp overall was a much needed Iman-boost and was a great weekend overall.  Here’s some pictures:

#1: The Vandalism of Ya Rabb 1 (hooligans!)

#2: Hasan and me (trying to strike a pose) at the basketball tournament

#3: Eating stuffed french toast at IHOP with demon-eyed Farhan Khalique ( magic… darkness, midnight… member of the winning team)

#4: (from left) MVP of the tournament and my little brother Rehan, Isaac, Farhan (Fiddy)

#5: Who’s that joker leading prayer?

#6: At the closing barbecue: Asad (left), me, and Feroze (right)



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