We are a few weeks into basketball season in our home. The children all play in a league run by a local Baptist Church. A few years ago, the Church bought the middle school that was being closed from the county and has basically turned it into a community center, running a myriad of outreaches and ministries. We've been playing there for 4 years now.
My 3 oldest love to play. They love to play well. They love to learn strategy and how to run a play. They love working on improving their basic skills. This year Sam is playing really well. His ball handling is so improved, thanks in big part to the fantastic camp (run by the Dad in this lovely home, and by the way, their newest "player" is adorable) he attended this past summer. Sam is having fun with his new team this year. They've won and they've lost, but its all good, because its fun with just boys.
Maddy and Lilly are playing together again this year. Dave chose not to coach because his shoulder has been giving him such trouble. But he still takes them to practice every week and stays a wee bit later to keep working with the girls when their practice is over. The next day I get to hear all about practice, what Papa taught them, the funny stories they shared. My heart rejoices when I ponder the happy and close moments they are sharing. After all, I spend most of my time with them. My life is full of their presence. But Dave works hard and long, so I am very happy they get these precious moments all to themselves.
Like with all things in life, there are moments of difficulty, when we must reach deep within ourselves and act with true grace and character. This is one of the reasons we like to see the children involved in sports. Tough games, pushing their bodies to their physical limits, dealing charitably with difficult opponents (or teammates), good coaches (and not so good coaches) are all things that help teach these lessons in character.
Today was a tough lesson for the girls...actually a brutal lesson. They played their hearts out, they got beat up (nearly literally), they were abandoned by a frustrated coach and left to fend for themselves by a lax referee. They still gave it their all. I could see the tears burning in Lilly's eyes at the end. Not because they lost. It was anger at letting something she loves so much become a brawl, not the beautiful and well played game she loves to be a part of. I was proud of them. Last year they had a fantastic coach, who above all, encouraged the girls to play with class and skill. I am grateful that even through the rough game today that this is the lesson they will keep with them.