It all started in the fall of 1996. Our five-year-old daughter wanted to play soccer. Since she was a very active and energetic child, we decided this could be a good thing. We signed her up. No other parent on our team wanted to coach, so my husband stepped in. And so began our years of watching (and coaching!) our kids.
They’ve managed to try most everything. All three started in soccer, then added basketball. (We had one brief season of t-ball in there.) As they started into junior high, we moved from the intensity of select soccer to school sports. Volleyball. Softball. Baseball. Track. All saw moments with one or more of our children. There were years (starting when our youngest was four!) when the boys were on the same teams, which was nice. Other years–many, many other years–where we kept up with three different teams. During middle school and high school basketball season, that meant 6 games a week! And then there were the one weekend overlaps of soccer and basketball when they were little. Six games in one day!
We traveled hither and yon. Sat out in cold and heat. Went through numerous folding chairs and bleacher seats. We laughed and cried and cheered our hearts out for our kids as they dribbled and scored and bumped and ran and hit and pitched.
We knew the end was coming, but we thought we had one more season–baseball–to savor. Instead we learned that the basketball injury from one of the first games of the season, the injury he taped and played with until our season ended last week, will require surgery. Baseball is out. Just like that, it’s all over.
I’ve cried a few tears in the past couple of weeks. Because of the way basketball season ended, then the abruptness of baseball season being gone, I never got to prepare myself, to find closure to this end of an era. Instead, it just drifted away, leaving me wishing I’d paid more attention to last games. But as I look back, I smile through the tears. These were years where we spent lots of time together as a family. Where our kids (and us!) learned to control our emotions, to be a team players, to give it our all. Someday, I hope we’ll get to watch our kids do the same with their kids. Until then, our consolation is one son who seeks his future as a coach. As long as he does that, we’ll have our child’s team to root for.
(I really wanted to post some picture collages of these years, but there were way too many to choose from. So here are each of our children on basketball senior night. Basketball came to be the sport they all loved most. And yes, each one is wearing number 11.)