Thursday, March 31, 2011

Death of a Dream

Basketball season is over, for the high schoolers, anyway. The high school state tournaments are on television each year, and this is about the first year that I didn't watch a single game, boys or girls. There was a time when basketball dominated our lives. More than one year we had kids on five different teams. I especially remember the year Sarah, our youngest, was not in school yet, so I guess she was about 4 years old. We headed for the first game of the season, and as we pulled up to the high school gymnasium she looked at the building and said, "Oh, I remember this place. I smell suckers."
Then, during that game she looked at me and said, "I'm tired of this." Oh, my. We had to buy lots of suckers before that long season was over.

But those were good times. Our little gradeschool had a long history of winning girls' basketball tournaments among the other parocial schools in our area. Those girls were good. That doesn't mean that the boys lost all the time, but they did not dominate year after year as the girls did. Two of our daughters, Paula and Anna, went on to play as point guards in both high school and in college.

Sports were a big part of our family's life. The parocial school the kids attended only had about 80 kids in all eight grades, and was out in the country. The school's two ball fields were right in our back yard. I thought it would be great if we got really good at softball as a family  (there were ten of us, after all). I was sure we could get good enough to have a fabulous team that could take on anyone. Paul and the children were good athletes, and I loved the game.

Unfortunately, most of our children were either indifferent to softball or disliked the game. Stephen, in particular, hated softball. But, when you are in seventh or eighth grade in a small school you are expected to play no matter what. If you don't play they might have to dig all the way down to the fourth grade for your replacement.

One year they had one of those scoliosis screenings at school, and a preliminary check led the volunteers to feel that Steve should have a professional look him over. As we were driving to the doctor's office the next week I thought I should prepare him for the worst.

 "I don't know what this means, Steve." I explained. "If this is really a case of scoliosis I want you to realize that you might have to wear a brace."

Thirteen year old Stephen looked at me with a total lack of concern and said, "Just make sure I have it by softball."

So much for the "Dream Team".


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