Tennis was part of the fabric of my childhood and adolescence, as well as my husband’s, so it’s been interesting to see both of our children gravitate towards different athletic interests. Basketball was never my favorite sport to watch or play, growing up, though I’m sure I was agreeable to shooting hoops with friends and watching college basketball in my teen years. Our son, L, is now 10 1/2, and in 6th grade. He and his friends at school played basketball every day at recess for the past two years, and now several of them are playing for the school. To put this enthusiasm for the sport in perspective, there are 33 students total in L’s grade. 13 of them play on a basketball team–two girls and 11 boys. 9 of those boys are on L’s junior varsity middle school team.
Their season is almost over; their final game is this week, in fact. When I look at pictures of L’s team, even though all of them are 6th graders, they range in height from about 4’8″ to 5’7″, and range in age from 10 1/2 (L) to already 12. There’s a bit of a skill spectrum, too, but for almost all the boys, this has been their first team basketball experience. I’ve gotten to see the ends of some of their practices, and they certainly have gotten quicker, more confident, and more skillful.
Because of A’s gymnastics schedule, I haven’t been able to see all of L’s games, so I’m especially grateful to my parents for attending the ones that I’ve missed. They send me updates during the game and even take some videos of L in action.
Yesterday was the team’s second-to-last game of the season. One by one, things started falling into place so that my parents, my husband, A, and I were able to be there for the entire game! My parents returned from an out-of-town trip. V’s work day ended early enough for him to attend. A’s gymnastics class had to be re-scheduled, so we just stayed at school and were ready to watch.
All of us being there was special on its own. But the day got even better: L ended up with a “triple single”–in the NBA or NCAA, we hear about “triple doubles” in the players’ stats, listing impressive scoring, rebounding, or steals per game. L has been working so hard with his coaches and his dad to be more accurate and more confident. Almost the whole season had gone by, and he hadn’t taken the opportunity to attempt a shot! Yesterday, all of the boys looked more sure of themselves. Their passes were crisper and more effective, their body language spoke of how far they’ve come in the past few months. L had a steal, and then a rebound, and then…he found a spot where he was ready to take a shot. He was open. He lined up, bent his knees, released the ball, and we watched it as if in slow motion travel in a gorgeous arc to the hoop. Swoosh. Maybe he doesn’t want me to share this, but V and I both got a little teary with parental pride.
That shot was about so much more than just putting points up for his team, though that was important, too. V and I have been trying to teach L that he won’t accomplish anything if he doesn’t try, if he is too afraid of failing. L has cruised academically, mastering lessons quickly and acing his tests and assignments with relative ease. He hasn’t tasted failure many times. Basketball has been such an influence on his humility, diligence, and confidence, on and off the court. Taking that shot told us as parents that he’s hearing instruction in his heart and was ready to put those words into action. Taking that shot showed that he was ready to stick his neck out, to seize the right moment. And he made the shot! I’ve seen him make that shot so many times in our driveway. We knew he could do it, and now he knows that he can do it not just in practice but in the game.
After the game, L told me how excited he was to hear the crowd making noise for something he had done. He was beaming. He’s always happy and proud about good grades, but there was a special kind of pride welling up in him after yesterday’s game. It’s that special kind of pride that comes from the culmination of determination, perseverance, practice, and courage over time, the kind that springs a person forward to the next great thing.
How about you? What’s something you’ve been meaning to do or wanting to do, but you’ve been waiting for the right combination of courage and opportunity? Are you afraid to fail? What’s the most recent thing you’ve done that was a step (or leap) of faith? Who cheers you on in your endeavors? Who could you cheer on today?