Sunday, March 27, 2011

All Star Desperation

The buzzer sounds and the final game of the season is over. After securing the win, the team hands out high fives to the other team, then each other. It was time now for all four teams to gather on the floor in front of the Athletic Director. The director thanks the parents, the volunteer coaches and referees, then the kids for a great season. After the clapping by the attendees, each coach says a few words about each player while handing them their trophy. The kids are all chatting to each other when the Director once again speaks. He is about to announce the twelve players selected to the All- Star team. One by one the named players rise and stand in a line. As the last player was named, I look at my son, still sitting on the floor, a little less celebratory now than five minutes before. The ceremony is over and the players make their way to their families, my son remains seating, sweaty, bruised, and icing a swollen thumb. My wife and I greet him as he finally makes his way to his feet. "Are you upset about not getting selected?" I say as I hand him a water bottle. He nods slowly. "Why don't you ask the director about being a substitute." My wife suggests. I walk over with my son to speak to the Director. 

I thank the Director for a great season and tell him we will be here next week for the All- Star game to cheer and enjoy the festivities. Then my son asks, "If someone can't play next week, can I play instead?" The Director takes a moment, then says "Maybe... we'll see if anyone is unable; are you upset you did not make the team?" My son nods again. "Well, it was very tough to leave anyone out, you certainly deserve a spot but there are many good players and I can only select twelve." The he adds, "I would not let this get to your head, do not bottle it in or beat yourself up, use this moment to drive you, and as motivation to improve your game, you have great abilities and grit, and if you keep at it, you will be a great-great player." I mention that he is taking the Director's skills clinic starting in a couple of weeks. The Director replies, "Well that is great, you are already thinking in the right direction." My son lets out an inspired smile and thanks the coach. As most of the families exit the gym, my son runs over to the big blue equipment bag and takes out a slightly dirty ball with NCAA in big black block letters stamped on the side. "Do you want to leave, the older teams is going to start soon." I ask. "I just want to shoot for a bit." he replies. My wife and I take a seat along the court and watch desperation turn to motivation.  
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