For those of you who don’t already know Sandy, I am very pleased to introduce her here today.
Sandra King lives in Michigan and is also know as Sandy or even Snady (long a), the result of a typo that stuck. She’s a Bible teacher and writer as well as a former surgical/public health/office nurse who keeps her license in tact. She’s a wife, mother and grandma who loves books, nature and all things chocolate. You can learn more about her at her two blogs, Beholding God and The Write Pursuit, and follower her on Twitter, @SandraHeskaKing.
Lessons from Basketball Camp
Gracee. Rising third-grader. Basketball camp. Three mornings last week. Early. Too early for summer.
She bounces out to the car in her new basketball shorts and shoes, Michigan State T-shirt, hair pulled back into a pony. She looks old.
“Are you excited?”
“Remember how Mom and I tried to talk you into b-ball last year, but you were scared?”
“I’m older now. Look! There’s Olivia and her mom. You know her mom.”
I wonder why I failed to slap on a little makeup.
“Cool. You already have friends here.”
I keep my head down as we go through the registration line.
“I’m going to stay until you’re settled and then run home and grab some breakfast. I’ll be back.”
After I slap on some makeup.
Later as she guzzles some water . . .
“It’s so hot! Look how sweaty. And we worked hard. And I made new friends.”
“I love basketball.”
“I’m glad! Trying new stuff can be scary, but we’re usually glad when we do.”
My phone rings. It’s my daughter: “She’s ready, but she’s so grumpy. Do NOT give in to her bratness.”
She’s wearing her new Orioles T-shirt, but she’s not bouncing. Mouth corners skim the driveway gravel.
“Well, you only have one more day. But maybe you better go to bed earlier tonight.”
“Do not laugh. No laughing allowed in this car today. And I mean it.”
She cracks up.
“Will you stay and watch me?”
“I have to get breakfast. Then, yes, I’ll be back to watch you.”
Later, as she guzzles some water . . .
“The kids say I look more like a soccer girl.”
“I can’t make any baskets. I haven’t made even one.”
I note that the baskets are still at regulation height.
“Well, you just have to practice. Your arms aren’t quite strong enough yet. They will be. And you’ll be taller in the fall. And you can work on what you can do right now like dribble and guard.”
“Practice makes perfect.”
“I love basketball!”
She’s not bouncing, but she’s not dragging either.
“Last day! Are you glad?”
“No. Will you watch me?”
“Yes. But parts are kind of boring. And I was the only adult who watched yesterday.”
“If I do really good today, I get a bottle of Gatorade.”
I go for coffee, and when I come back, she’s playing monkey in the middle—or whatever they call it. She waves. Then they scrimmage.
She comes over to get a drink.
“They were yelling at me.”
“Who? The coaches or the kids?”
“The kids. I don’t like basketball. I want to go home. Now.”
She’s fights back tears, and I want to go fight the kids who are yelling at her.
“It’s easy to give up. Shake it off. And get back in the game. Stick it out. You’re almost done. Besides, it looks like they are going to take pictures.”
She grinds the heels of her hands into her eyes.
“And no laughing allowed.”
She flashes the hint of a grin and then trots out to slip into the group frame.
After the photos are taken, they divide into small groups for drills. And then gather again for an awards ceremony. They all get participation certificates and rounds of high fives. And bottles of Gatorade.
And then the coaches pass out individual “awards.” Gracee gets one for improvement—“in recognition of all the hard work it took to be better today than you were yesterday.” And everybody claps.
She’s not only a Lady Oriole. She’s an improved Lady Oriole.
“Can I stay and shoot a few hoops?”
“Okay. For just a few minutes.”
So she shoots. And shoots. And shoots.
And I cheer her on.
“Almost. You hit the rim. You skimmed the bottom of the basket. You’re getting there. Good job.”
The varsity girls’ coach comes over and offers to retrieve the ball for her.
She shoots. And shoots. And shoots.
And the ball hits the rim. Rolls. Drops.
Right through the basket.
“YES! YES! YES!”
“I LOVE basketball!”
Life can be scary.
And sometimes people yell.
And sometimes we fail.
And giving up seems like a plan.
But sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement, a little recognition, a little applause, a round of high fives.
Maybe even just a bottle of Gatorade.
And a lot of practice.
Shake it off. And get back in the game.
And be better tomorrow than today.