I was on the middle school basketball team in 7th and 8th grades. I was a high quality bench warmer. Honestly, in two full seasons of basketball, I scored one point. One. It was a free throw, obviously. I remember sitting on the bench with my fellow second stringers. We’d talk amongst ourselves about how we wished we would get put in the game. I never got put in the game unless we were up by at least twenty points with less than two minutes left. But I was a big dreamer with my friends. We were ready. We were hopeful. But in those rare moments when Coach Reed would yell my name and I would make my way to sit next to her for my instructions, my stomach would start turning flips. I’m not sure if my friends got as nervous as I did when actually put in a game, but it always took me a good ten or fifteen seconds on the court to settle in.
Mama was a teacher, so it wasn’t difficult for her to come to the games. She got off work the same time I got out of school, so she would just head on over to wherever our game was. Daddy was always there, too. This realization of Daddy’s selflessness was similar to the one regarding my first car. It wasn’t until I was an adult with an actual professional job of my own that I realized people have to request and take leave if they want to be somewhere else at 4:00 in the afternoon. I scored one point in two years. But I don’t remember Daddy ever missing a game. Fortunately, I had some very talented teammates who kept the games exciting and we usually won. In addition to always showing up, Daddy actually filmed our games with one of those massive, heavy 1990’s era camcorders. He gave the game tape to Coach Reed after every game, so she could watch and critique our gameplay. I remember they gave him a plaque of appreciation at the awards banquet one year.
I don’t know that I even really thought back on this sacrifice Daddy made, to leave work early about two times a week for about three months to watch his daughter sit the bench, until I realized one of my coworkers does the same thing. Well, from what I understand, my coworker’s daughter is an exceptional basketball player and probably gets a lot of playing time. But my coworker takes an hour of vacation time multiple times every week during basketball season to go support her daughter. I told her that even if her daughter doesn’t realize the significance of that now, she will probably look back as an adult and feel very honored and thankful, like I have.