Saturday, May 16, 2015

One Afternoon

Today, my lfe or yours may have radically changed but we won't know it for years. This is about a day like that with the central character an awesome young lady. It is from June 20, 2011.

We started the last week of basketball camp today. It will be morning and afternoon sessions as always with the younger kids coming in the AM hours. These sessions are devoted to shooting and it is the most fun week, both for the kids and the coaches. On Wednesday, I'll do the free throw clinic just as I have for the past thirteen years. We do it in all six sessions per summer and even though I make some variations, many of the kids who come back each June could recite it by heart. We break down the free throw shot into six simple steps and have the kids repeat them back in order. Since most of our kids of all ethnicities can at least count in Spanish, we added that component last week when we worked with our little campers. For a little more variation, we added the free throw step counting in Vietnamese this summer. (For the intellectually curious, it goes: Một, Hai, Ba, Bốn, Năm, Sáu ) You might ask whey I chose Vietnamese for the added flair. Two reasons. First, I am leaving in nineteen days for a mission trip to Vietnam and secondly, I do it because Sonja helps me with the free throw clinic. Let me tell you about Sonja.

This is the fifth summer Sonja has worked at our camp but it is the story of how she came to be here that I want to relate. In January of 2005, my WCS middle school girls' team was invited to play in a tournament at a nearby Catholic school, St. Francis De Sales, which goes through eighth grade. They had a tiny Asian player who we could not guard. She could go from one end of the floor to the other with the basketball in no time. After the game, which we lost, I spoke to their coach, who worked at our camp, and he told me her name was Sonja Vuong. He also passed along that she was an terrific young lady and that he thought she was going to a well-known all girls' school in Houston. The next day, I told our girls' coach, Russell Carr, about Sonja. I told him this girl is incredibly quick and she plays incredibly hard. Russell called her coach and her family and the next thing you know, Sonja tests and enrolls at Westbury Christian the following August as a freshman. Sonja starts for our Lady Wildcats at point guard for three years including her senior year when our girls were ranked in the top ten of high school teams in the US. And when Reed Sutton, who had taken over for Russell in coaching our girls, started the women's program at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, Sonja went with him. In their inaugural season in 2010-11 and with Sonja in the starting lineup, Faulkner won 20+ games, an amazing beginning for a first year program.

Last week, I made a point to our older campers about how Sonja's life changed in forty-five minutes. If she had played poorly that day or if we had lost the previous game and not matched up with her school, none of these things would have happened. I emphasized you never know if today your whole life will change course so you better be ready for your chances. I preached that impressing one person, even with things as small as where you sit in a class, can make all the difference as it did with Sonja. But there is the ripple effect as well. Sonja was my student assistant coach for a year and had profound influence on my players' lives. She has done the same thing at our camps where these children adore her and hang on her words. I can't tell you how much Sonja has meant to Westbury Christian School and I'm sure she will have the same impact at Faulkner. Ironically, I'll make it to Vietnam before Sonja, who has never been to the land of her ancestors. She's going to get a nice souvenir, I can tell you that! I love Ephesians 2, verse 10 where Paul says:
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Maybe my good work to do was simply to notice a young lady who was dribbling a basketball six years ago. If so, I think I passed the test. Consider this: you may think you had a horrible day today but in actuality, your life might have just taken a glorious turn for the better!  I'm sure of this: Westbury Christian took a quantum leap forward the day that I encountered Sonja six years ago. Six, or or as bilingual folks say, Sáu!

Applicable quote of the day:
"I will prepare and some day, my chance will come."
Abraham Lincoln

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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