The End Is Near

October 18, 2005

Family

Dana has been playing basketball for over eight years now. In less than three weeks, we will be traveling to Carbondale, Illinois to meet with her collegiate coach and team. In NCAA terms, this will be the “official visit.” But for Dana, this will be her graduation to the big leagues. She’s been playing “big time” basketball for quite some time. But this is something different. Basketbal is now something she does of her own volition.

This weekend hammered that fact home to me. On Sunday, she had two “officially” scheduled baskedtball games. One was with her soon-to-be high school teammates in a “fall league” game. The second was with Excel (her AAU team). Several weeks ago, she had arranged to be a “walk-on” player for St. Pious in their high school league. BTW, this kind of walk-on is very common since Kansas rules only allow three varsity players from the preceeding year to play together in out-of-season games. So Dana likes to fill in for friends. So we started the day with three actual games scheduled.

After the first game, she had a four-hour break until her next game. So she asked the leagure coordinator if anyone needed a spare player. She got picked up by some school and played an extra game. After that game, we headed off to a different venue where she would play the game with her high school teammates. They easily won that game – or at least they were winning handily when we had to leave for the next games

So we headed off to a third venue. This was where she played with Excel. After her fourth game (of three that were scheduled in the morning), she saw some friends from the sophomore and JV team. They asked her to hang around and play with them. So game five was added. After game five, some of the sophomore players needed to do some additional homework. So they asked Dana if she could play yet another game. Since Dana was done with homework, she gladly agreed. So within five minutes, she was starting her sixth game.

By the second half of the sixth game, I could tell that Dana was tired. She missed a couple of simple layups (I think the net had a lid). But after six games, who could argue – and her defense was great. She had a bunch of steals, a couple of blocks and a whole lot of “in your face” harassing play. All in all, she decided to play six games. To sum up the day, she had two mandatory games and four additional games. She averaged something over fifteen points every game. Most games she scored either near or over twenty. Man, she is one strong player.

But what struck me the deepest was that the number of games and the tone of her play were her choice. She wasn’t playing because Mom and Dad wanted to see her play. She wasn’t playing for any incentives. She was playing because she wanted to play. And she was playing to help her friends who were short a player or two. And she was playing to get stronger and more skilled. In short, she was playing for her own reasons.

I can’t think of any way that I could be prouder of her. She is taking the skills that God has given her and she is making a life and ministry out of those skills. I hope she gets as much joy from what she is doing as I get in watching her. Just so you know, I really can’t see a thing on the court. Yes, I can see blurry shapes running back and forth. But even without the eyes, I could see her joy as she was playing. Man, I’m grinning ear-to-ear just thinking about it!

So the end is near. Her last high school season will start in less than a month. Between now and then, she’ll play a couple dozen more games. She’ll have eight or ten organized practices with Todd Baugh (her personal coach and a great guy). And she’ll do several dozen weight training sessions (at school and on her own). If she maintains the infectious, positive attitude, she may earn the right to be a team captain. But even with all this activitiy, the end is near. I will enjoy every game of the season, but the end is near. Very soon, my daughter will be focusing on her collegiate concerns (studies and basketball). So the next few months will be the last few months that I get to “see” my daughter play. Wow, the next few months will be both wonderful and transforming – for all of us.

I pray that she is as proud of herself as I am proud of her!

-CyclingRoo-

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