With this ambivalence, I held the first practice and shared some of my philosophies about basketball and the elements of the game that I thought were vital. We spent time practicing rebounding and defensive stances, pick and rolls, and swimming through screens. I felt great about the practice and felt sorry for the team that we would be meeting for our first game!
Our first game arrived and the whistle blew to start the game. To my shock, my pupils did not know what a jump ball was or where to stand. I took a deep breath in and an insight hit, “This was not only the first time most of these girls were playing church basketball, it was MY first time playing CHURCH basketball!” I had tried to give them knowledge without a foundation and without that foundation we scored our first basket with 30 seconds left in the half. All I could do was take feverish notes and try to choke back the urge to run out there and do it myself!
That first game ended with heads hanging low and an 8 to 36 loss, but the lesson was clear, “GO BACK TO THE BASICS!” and have a humble coach! The next practice we did just that, we went back to the basics and walked through all of the fundamental scenarios that they would hit, such as, jump ball, out of bounds plays, free throws, and where to be offensively and defensively. It was a comfort to know they had some fundamental skills to take into the next contest.
As all truly great stories go, these terrific kids continued to grow and develop through the next several weeks and we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the Championship Game against the same team that had beaten us that first night. I am happy to report that my girls won the game 38-28 and will be seated 1st place going into Region play!
This little basketball season hit at the same time as the cancer diagnosis and the beginning of treatment. Shockingly, it became a metaphor in my mind! Like that first practice, I was going through life with a pre-loaded belief about how my life was going to go and I was leading a blissful existence. When we found out about the cancer, I was stumbling around trying to figure out what was going on (much like the jump ball scenario) and it would be quite easy to say that I went through most of that ‘first half’ without scoring.
Well, it’s been a great blessing to have had a lot of those conversations despite it all! To truly love deeper, and see things clearer, and to recognize the incredible amount of blessings that are meted out by an All-knowing and All-loving Father. No matter the outcome, I choose to trust Him and to follow through on the things that I feel in my heart, and in that way, much like my girls, I will walk away with the CHAMPIONSHIP!