We lost our game Thursday night. That hasn't been an unusual occurrence this season. Eight games in, we have a record of 1-7 but that's a bit deceiving. We have only one team made of 6-7-8 graders and the majority of our schedule is against 8th grade teams from other private schools in the area. With five of the eleven kids suiting up being sixth graders, we are often at a size and physical maturity disadvantage. But this loss was different. Although we have played our opponents close or even been ahead for a quarter, we have usually ended up behind by a considerable margin when the final buzzer buzzes and the kids and coaches line up for the traditional post game handshakes. Not three nights ago. We lost by two points and we actually had the ball with a chance to tie with fifteen seconds left on the clock. But as inexperienced teams do, we made a turnover and never got off a tying or go ahead shot. The kids took it hard. They really believed we were going to win....and then we didn't. We talked about it the next morning in practice. There are things we have to do better to win games. Even though our focus is never on winning, it is a by product of improving and we are drastically improved over where we were a month ago. I asked Sydney and Lizeth is they ever had to make a shot last year that meant the difference between winning and losing and their answer was they did not. When the game is on the line, it simply is not the same as if you are considerably ahead or considerably behind. It's a matter of experience.
On Friday morning, after practice, Natalia was helping me put the basketballs away. During a time out the night before, I told her that if she said, "I'm sorry!" one more time after missing a shot, she would be a pine sister the rest of the game i.e., she would be relegated to the bench. It's understandable- Natalia has never played before and she is good shooter who wasn't shooting well. I asked her after we rolled the balls into the locker room if anyone on our team had not made a mistake all year. Predictably, she answered no. I disagreed and reminded her that Elizabeth had not missed a shot or fouled an opponent or turned the ball over. Natalia smiled and admitted I was right. You see, Elizabeth suffered an ankle injury in October and has yet to resume playing. (Elizabeth also has not been absent from a game, a terrific lesson for many players to learn!) What Natalia and I concluded is that you have to shoot the ball to make it but shooting with it carries the risk of missing. It's pretty much like life.
We can't go through our existence like Elizabeth is having to endure basketball; on the sideline without participating except in an auxiliary role. We try, we fail, we try again, we succeed. In his sermon tonight on Jacob, David Yasko spoke of how the Lord teaches us through experiences which can be very painful. But, we can't quit. Jacob made a multitude of poor decisions in his life but when he wrestled with God who changed his name to Israel, the father of the twelve tribes was never the same. He still made mistakes- think of Joseph's coat of many colors- but look of the heroes of the faith who came from his family tree. Brother Yasko reminded us that in the wrestling match with the Lord, Jacob sustained a debilitating hip injury leaving him with a limp in an era before the onset of physical therapy. His basketball career might have ended on the spot. Still, I bet Jacob had a mean shot fake. After all, his name meant The Deceiver.
Applicable quote of the day:
"All earthly delights are sweeter in expectation than in enjoyment; but all spiritual pleasures more in fruition than in expectation."
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