The books are closed on another basketball season. The final game—last night—was a playoff tiebreaker game against an archrival to see who got the final playoff spot. We lost. But the boys played hard.
It was a wonderful season in many respects. Our daughter matured so much, learning to keep her cool on the court, learning to enjoy the game and her teammates whether winning or losing (and mostly losing!) My middle school son learned how to lose graciously and he learned a lot about the game of basketball from a young coach who played at the college level.
But one of the greatest joys of this season has been watching my ninth grade son. He is an athlete, though and through, but he is small and not particularly fast. He is sports-smart, however, understanding the complexities of the game, and he hustles. As one of two freshmen, he knew he’d sit the bench all season, like he did in football (small school, not enough kids for a JV team.) That frustrates him, because he loves to play. But he did it anyway, working hard in practice, taking care of the boys who played in games by having water and an encouraging word ready when they came out of the game, just like he did in football.
The coach noticed. What I think started as an effort to reward his hard work prior to district play became a habit and then an official proclamation: my son was given the duties of captain of the team. He even got to play several times, sometimes even for a few minutes in a close game.
Last night was an example of what he’s done all season. After getting the water and encouraging the guys during time outs, coach put him in the game in the fourth quarter for about three minutes. He hustled, had a couple of assists and a couple of rebounds. Plenty of glory for a teenaged boy. He went back to the bench—and back to getting the water. A servant leader if I’ve ever seen one. I wish I could say we taught him that, either by words or example. But I think not. I think if I boast I must boast in the Lord, for He made my son that way. What most of us spend a lifetime learning, He gave to this child as a gift. And it humbles me to watch it.
So our lives will slow a bit now—but just a bit, mind you! The school musical is in three weeks, with my daughter playing a major role. Middle school baseball starts up soon. The yearbook deadline looms, as do academic and art competitions. A small school keeps everybody busy. But when it affords me the chance to watch my children grow and change, becoming more and more like Christ, and gives then opportunities to discover and develop talents and abilities bestowed on them by God that they had no idea they possessed, it’s worth the effort and the busyness.