Last week, Puppy Lover tried out for the basketball team.
Let’s just say…basketball is not his best sport.
I didn’t expect him to make the team. He’s only ever played basketball for winter seasons in low key leagues, and in an area where almost every kid seems to be on a travel team for some sport….I didn’t think he had the skills it would take to get an elusive spot on the team.
Monday and Tuesday were tryouts for everyone. Then cuts were made and Wednesday’s tryout would be ‘invitation only’, according to him. Wednesday afternoon, the team would be named.
Over a hundred tried out for 18 spots.
I mentally was prepared to have a very disappointed boy on my hands Tuesday night.
And yet……he came home with an invitation to come back Wednesday.
And Wednesday, as I waited, and waited, and waited……I was prepared for a disappointed AND angry boy to ride home with me.
I saw many boys, obviously 7th graders slinking down the hall slowly, heads down.
One boy even left sobbing. It took everything in me to not go and hug him. I don’t know who he was, but my momma heart wants to hug anyone who’s crying. For his dignity sake…I held back my hug and prayed for him.
And I prayed for my boy…that God would prepare his heart for the news that was coming to him. Hopefully good, but probably not.
And then the boys got bigger streaming down the hall. Still with heads down….but these were 8th graders. Man-child boys looking so dejected. I feared I would soon recognize one very well.
And then boys started slowly walking down the hall with papers in their hands. Not looking exuberant, but looking fulfilled. Looking pleased, but respectful of how others might be feeling around then. Not a one beaming or even smiling much….but looking….satisfied.
I held my breath. And prayed more.
Because my sweet Puppy Lover hadn’t sidled down the hall with the boys who didn’t make the team….and yet he wasn’t coming with the boys who did.
So I waited some more.
Until one of his friends came and said hi to me. I noticed he had a paper in his hand, so I congratulated him.
And then……he told me my Puppy Lover made the team!!!!!!
(I think God had him tell me so my boy wouldn’t see the shock on my face! 😉
My wait got easier, lighter and my prayers turned to thanksgiving that my boy, who’s been showing such growth of character this school year, was rewarded for his hard work with a spot on the team.
And then…he walked down the hall towards me. Not jubilantly running like I had expected
(sidenote….kudos to ALL coaches that teach their students and athletes to be respectful and considerate of others feelings!)
but with a smile on his face and a paper in his hand.
And true to his personality, he launched into what he and I needed to do next.. a check for his uniform and practice clothes, practice starts tomorrow, etc.
And I, as kindly as I could, stopped him and looked him in the eye and told him I was proud of his hard work.
It wasn’t until we were in the car that I heard the whole story….
My boy was number 20 on the team. The team that was supposed to have 18 boys.
And how long I waited for him to come out of the gym…that was because the coach was having a conversation with him about being on the team.
He went on to tell me that there was another boy that the coach really wanted on the team so he made another spot. But the coach (who also is his social studies teacher….and his favorite teacher this year!) told him he really wanted him on the team, despite his less than stellar basketball skills, because he liked how hard he worked, his energy and his leadership…so he made another spot on the team for my boy.
My boy…..the one that has struggled with ‘leadership’ looking a lot like forcing his way upon others.
My boy…who has struggled to develop a work ethic that is anything but ‘make an excuse to get out of work’
My boy…who’s ‘leadership’ often means bossing people around.
The coach made a spot on the team for MY boy.
But he also told him some stipulations.
He was going to have to work hard. Harder than the other boys. Give up recess (yes..how awesome that our middle schoolers get recess!) to work with the coach on his basketball skills.
And one more thing…..
In the words of the coach
“You can’t run down the court like a football player ready to tackle someone.”
And my son’s response made my heart skip a beat.
On Wednesday, I’ll tell you why.