I’ve been the League Director of our Upward basketball league for 4 seasons now, and by far this last season was my favorite! It’s not often I get the opportunity to see our league from a perspective other than as the director, and this season came at just the right time in my life. NE, it’s your first time playing on an organized sport’s team, and I was blessed to coach your team.
I remember at the start of the season, I was worried that your anxiety would get the better of you, and you’d lose interest in playing pretty quickly. That first practice, you clung to my leg pretty much the entire night. You seemed frustrated at me and the process…quite honestly, it was pretty frustrating for me too. It definitely didn’t seem like you were having much fun at all. That night…as I tucked you in to bed, you looked up at me with those big eyes and said, “Dad, I love you be my basketball coach.” Daddy proud moment right there buddy.
As the season went on, you warmed up to the practices. Then came the first game. Anyone who’s ever been to one of our Upward games, knows it’s not quiet. For a four year old, it can be an overwhelming experience the first time. Again, you clung to my leg pretty much the whole time you were out on the court. There was even one period where you didn’t want to finish playing and sat down on the bench. Looking back over your season, I think there were a lot of those moments for you. Games where I could tell it just wasn’t fun for you. There were parts of the game day experience that you really enjoyed. Running through the tunnel for player introductions. Dancing to Cotton Eye Joe. Playing with tour friends. Helping me at the score table for other games. Counting down on the sound system with 10 seconds remaining. Actually playing the game, though, it seemed like you were getting frustrated. You just couldn’t quite make a basket. Each time you dribbled down the court, you would circle around, never quite getting through the crowd to get close enough to the basket.
Here it was, the last game of the season, and we had not yet seen you (or Bryce and Josiah)make a basket all season. We made it a priority to get you three the ball every time until you each scored. Watching Josiah and Bryce each make their first basket was awesome in itself. Pretty cool stuff. But as a daddy, you still want it to be your son. Several times, you dribbled down the court and broke through the crowd to get in position…and missed. Then…you overshot it by inches, and the other coach assisted with the rebound and knocked it in. Your eyes lit up as we congratulated you, and I think that’s when it finally started sinking in for you. The next time down the court you overshot again, and the period ended shortly afterward. You were back on the bench for another 6 minutes.
When you came back out on the court, I was praying, “Lord please let him make a basket on his own”. After several failed attempts, you dribbled down the court one more time with Coach Mary leading the way and opening up a hole for you. Buddy, you threw that ball up and it “swooshed” like it never had before. I can’t remember ever seeing a bigger smile on your face, and as I picked you up and hugged on you all the way down the court, I’m sure the smile on my face was bigger than it had been in a long time. That was a daddy proud moment, son.
I’m not proud of you for what you do or how you act. I’m not proud of you for what you say or what you believe. Son, I’m proud of you for who you are. For the unique creation God designed you to be. For doing your best and never giving up. For struggling through your discouragement to keep trying. For not quitting. For rising above your frustration to accomplish what you wanted to do. For just being you son. You make me proud because you’re my son. And you always will.