It's Saturday night, so as usual between the months of December and March, I found myself in a high school gym, cheering on my husband's basketball team, the Temple Pioneers.
This year is a little different though. I've been "the coach's wife" for a long time, but this year, my oldest son Brock is now in high school. Which means, I am not just cheering on my husband's team, but my son's. There's just a whole other layer of stress in that. Suddenly wins and losses take on a whole new meaning when your son is in the big game.
Brock has been waiting at least a decade to be on the Pioneer team. He's spent literally hours in the gym and on our back porch - shooting jump shots, three -pointers and free throws. He's spent more hours studying game films and doing ball handling drills.
This summer, he spent at least five to six hours A DAY working on his basketball game. The boy is dedicated to the sport, and his self-discipline puts me to shame.
The thing you have to know about Brock is that he a little over 5'6" tall and doesn't weigh over 120. While he's fast, his speed isn't breathtaking. But he wanted a spot on the Varsity squad and he kept that goal firmly in his sights all summer long.
When your dad is the coach, it adds an additional amount of stress. You can't make the team by the skin of your teeth - you have to prove you deserve a spot there more than most.
But he did it. All this year, he's played a little JV ball and then swung up to the Varsity. He gets quite a few minutes of play, and I've been so proud of him. Not because he's on Varsity necessarily, but because he worked hard toward a goal. That's not just a sports thing - that's a life skill.
As a freshman, his job is to shoot three pointers when needed. After all, at 5'6", it's a little hard to pound the boards with people who weigh 50 lbs more than you.
As the season has progressed, I've seen Brock's defense improve. I've seen his confidence grow, but he's been frustrated. When he practices in the gym, his shots fall like magic.
In the game - not so much. Instead of the 50 or 60% shooting percentage that Brock wants, it's been closer to the 25-30% mark. As his mom, I think he's doing great, but Brock doesn't agree with my assessment. I think he'd secretly like his shooting percentage to 100%, even though he knows that isn't possible. :)
Tonight, we led the first half. Brock shot 5 shots. He missed all of them - one a 12 foot jumper that a very large kid stuffed in his face. I could see his shoulders slump as he walked off the court and a different player subbed in for him. My heart ached for him because I know how hard he works. I know how much he wants this.
When my kids were still in diapers and sippy cups, I thought that was the hard part, but then my kids got older. Suddenly, I couldn't fix it with a kiss and a Dora the Explorer bandaid. Dancing around the kitchen singing silly songs just didn't cut it anymore for the hurts my kids experience now as a middle schooler and high school freshman.
The second half started and things went south rather quickly. The Mustangs took the lead and things were not looking good for the Pioneers. Shots that had fallen easily in the first half, were not finding their mark. The other team couldn't seem to miss.
The last few minutes of the game rolled around. We went up two. They came down with a three pointer. Brock made a three pointer to bring us to within two points. Then they made a couple free throws, and we were two behind.
There were only 10 seconds left on the clock.
Then I saw him. Brock was in the corner. His spot when the team runs the play to get him the ball for a three point shot. My heart squeezed as I saw him take the shot.
Time slowed to a crawl as the ball arced through the air. It seemed to hang there, suspended, as I held my breath. Then, it fell with a swish through the bucket with 2.8 seconds on the clock.
Suddenly time came rushing back in. The crowd was on their feet screaming and cheering - for my son. I yelled and jumped and, quite frankly, almost started crying.
It's not often you get to be the witness of someone's mountain top moment. It's especially poignant when it's your child.
While I was excited that we won as the next person, the thing that I was MOST happy about was that Brock got to see tangible evidence that yes, hard work DOES pay off. All those hours of practice and work were rewarded when the rubber hit the road. When his team needed him, that basket swished softly through the net. That moment wouldn't have been possible without all the hours of practice that came before.
He got to see that it's okay to take a big risk, that without taking the big risks you don't experience the big wins.
Of course, while Brock's was the game winning shot, it took all the other 59 points to get him to that moment. When you are part of a team - you win together and you lose together.
In the future, there will be times when Brock will take the risk and he'll fail. Instead of a swish, the ball will bounce of the rim, the clock will wind down, and we won't leave the victors. But there are lessons in failing as well as succeeding.
But tonight - tonight Brock had one of those shining moments. One of those moments that you look back and remember long after the fans leave the gym and the bus pulls out of the lot. Moments that you recall as you stand alone in the gym - no cheering fans, no pep band. Just you and the ball - doing one more drill, shooting one more shot.
I watched him walk off the court after the final buzzer. While he looked embarrassed at the attention his teammates were showering on him, I saw his shoulders were squared. A smile played around his mouth instead of his usual poker expression, and his walk was confident. I do believe my baby just took one of those big steps towards being a man.
~ Blessings, Bronte