by Jeff Jewett
It’s a foggy 7:00 AM and the Valemount junior and senior girls and boys basketball teams are returning home after a weekend of competition at the Fort Saint James Secondary School. As a parent chaperon on this trip I would like to pass on my perspective.
During this tournament, some of our teams had not so good games that will go towards the development of “character” (a word good coaches rely on when their teams are struggling). Other teams displayed exciting and even moving games as they experienced team cohesion and the rewards of previous “character” games.
It’s a thrilling experience to feel the atmosphere of a school gym transform. There is an electrifying stoppage in time as you watch that orange ball float through the air and swish through net. The crowd, holding its breath, now lets it out in a sigh or a roar.
The most interesting part for me is thinking ‘that was my kid.’ He made the basket. In that moment, life can take on a sense of wonder. To see that teenager/child you have cajoled, chastised and corrected, transform. As they turn, they smile and you see something else happen. It comes from the inside and appears like a sort of a presence… confidence. That wonderful element of life that is a game changer. As a parent it becomes more than a game; it’s some sort of deep satisfaction. After watching them struggle with other life issues that have not yielded enjoyment, here is something that began as hard work and disappointment and came together in a moment of success. If that weren’t enough, as I sat basking in the afterglow of my child’s win, it happens again. They maneuver and capture the ball and drive for the basket and launch themselves with focus and determination then release that rubber sphere through the hoop once again.
Cheers again strike the air and you notice something else happen. Not only does my kid wear that brilliant grin, now you see their teammates connect together with that potent elixir of belief that something is happening that is in their grasp and yet isn’t completely controllable. They are together in this together experience. It’s the kind of stuff that makes lifelong relationships.
I am beginning to see that my kid has ability. It happens again. He squares up at the 3 point line and lets go with an arching beauty that drifts through the hoop. What was once an unsure activity, an unknown hope has become a contagion and it begins to have a ripple effect on the team as one after another take their chance and the ball drops time after time until the final whistle blows and the scoreboard reveals the delightful truth. Our team has won.
Last year in the same school tournament the final whistle signaled long faces and comments of quitting the sport. Not this year.
It doesn’t matter if they won the game, something far more important happened. Something awoke in this group of teenagers, coaches and parents. Something that makes it all worth it. Something that is a game changer, a life changer…. Hope.