Thursday, November 9, 2017

When Your Child Isn't Picked

My son tried out for his school basketball team this week. He's worked hard over the last year, participating in a bantam team, a city league (where his team won the championship) going to basketball camps and being invited to participate in a state tournament. He's worked on his shot and conditioning and was nervously excited for the tryouts.

The first night of the tryouts was a lot of drills and running and it was physically hard. One boy even threw up. My son finished the drill and turned to cheer his friends on. He came home from the tryout and said that he felt like he'd done his best. We waited an hour and a half to find out the result.

He'd made the first cut.

We were elated and he was excited to go to the second night of tryouts. They did some shoot-arounds and some of his shots were falling and some weren't. He felt like he'd done as well as he could. Just before the tryout ended, however, the coach had each boy get a piece of paper and write down where they would rank the nineteen boys left in order of who they thought should be on the team. A lot of the popular kids were trying out and of course they all wrote down their friends. The coach collected the papers and they went home to await the results.

My son didn't make the team.

He was disappointed. Our entire family was disappointed for him. He'd worked so hard. We talked it through, trying not to point at the "popular" kid list since most everyone who made the team is also in the popular kid group at school. (I just can't understand why that list would even come into the tryouts, but that's just me.) My son decided that same night, though, to work even harder and try out again next year. He started making plans to join the city league again and keep up with his workouts.

And then the coach caught up with him at school today.

The coach told my son that he'd been really close to making the team and he wanted him to now be a team manager. Being the team manager means that my son would set up the scorers table, get water for the players, keep stats, that sort of thing. He would also be invited to practices, allowed to participate in shoot-arounds, accompany the team to games, and buy team apparel. So, pretty much, he can do everything a boy on the team can do except play in a game.

My first reaction was, why would you want to do this? Why be around the people and coach who didn't pick you? Why be so close to something that hurts right now? I was a little frustrated that the coach would even put my son in this position. But my son was seeing a bigger picture. He pointed out that he can get all the benefits of the coaching, the practices, the drills, and know what things to work on for next year while he's being a manager.

Then he said, "And Mom, if I do this, I can really be doing something to help my team."

I was humbled by that. They were still "his team." My response was to turn away, to nurse the hurt, to avoid those who'd caused it. And my son is putting all that aside and looking to help those same people and letting them help him.

I'm proud of my son. So proud. And I know that even if he never makes a school team, he'll push through and find the good in the experience.

Which, as I've been reflecting today, is something I obviously need to work on myself. But what a great example I have to look up to. Love you, sweetheart.

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