Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Jazz And Basketball

We are in the first week of basketball camp, 2014, and once again, I'm coaching girls. We divide the campers into teams and they choose their team names. In the morning session of younger children with the category of mascots being ZOO ANIMALS, our team name is the Cheetahs and our slogan is, "Cheetahs never cheat!" My afternoon squad, where names are borrowed from the NBA, we are the Jazz, a name picked, I kid you not, because my players all like to sing! We don't have great numbers of kids this week. Most schools in Houston are still in session which limits the camper pool. The other reason, in my belief, is that now almost every school/church/fitness club has some sort of program for children in the summer and there are only so many kids to go around. Summer is now big business when it comes to out-of-school students from four to eighteen and the competition is fierce. We used to have one of the few good basketball camps in this part of Houston; now they are many.

About two hours into our afternoon session today, all the teams were running a basket cut drill at separate baskets. The players involved are spaced fifteen feet apart along the three point line and when the player on top passes, they cut to the basket and the girl on the opposite wing fills in and the process repeats itself. I heard our WCS boys' basketball coach/camp director, Trey Austin, telling a team of young men to stop what the were doing and follow him. They obediently did and came to our basket where the Jazz were doing the basket cuts. Trey told the boys to watch and learn. I'm not sure if they learned but they did watch. After a minute or so, Trey marched them back to their own basket and told them, "That's how you do the drill!" When the boys left, I called the girls together and tried to make it a teachable moment. I should mention here that the Jazz is made up of only three girls, with the other female team having five members. It was no wonder that Trey used us to demonstrate; you see, the Jazz is the most experienced camp team this week. I would guess the teammates- Vanessa along with sisters Hayden and Piper- average seventeen sessions of WCS All-Star Camp experience! But the more amazing stat is their ages. Vanessa and Hayden are ten years old and Piper is nine! You see, they started coming to our camps when they were four and five and they come every week. Vanessa is going to both morning AND afternoon sessions this week! But it didn't start with them. With Hayden and Piper, it began with older sister, Devin, who started in third grade and the next year, sister Haley joined us. Devin and Haley worked at the camps up until about two years ago; Devin is a college grad now and Haley will enter her junior year of college in August. Vanessa has two older sisters; I would estimate that Lizeth, now in college, probably was a camper about twelve times. And my guess is that her other sister, Ruby, who will be a senior point guard on our Lady Wildcats in 2014-2015, has been in camp as a camper and player/coach maybe sixty sessions! You could not write a history of our Westbury Christian basketball camps without a chapter on each of these two wonderful families!

While we were talking as a team, I told them several other things they already knew and one was this. Because of their height, they are going to have to work harder than other kids if they continue long term. Of the seven kids in the two families, all seven are daughters and none of the seven is tall. It's a basketball fact of life that smaller players have an uphill climb and Hayden/Vanessa/Piper understand. But we also talked about how they are incredibly sweet and very talented in many areas and basketball is just a tiny fraction of their lives. I added how much fun it is to coach them because they are great listeners and so very coachable, which is not considered a skill but it should be. Both sets of parents have instilled in their girls a respect for their elders, a sense of joy in their activities, and the knowledge they are loved. They can be silly at times- did I mention they are nine and ten?- but what a joy they are to teach the game of basketball.  One of the great blessings of a small school is that I have been blessed to watch these three grow up by seeing them almost daily in the halls. In the scriptures, both Paul and John talk about having spiritual children in their epistles and the pride they feel in their maturation. I don't have kids of my own but I feel in some small way, as many times as I have coached these three at camp, that they are my basketball children. Their biological parents are incredibly blessed to have daughters like these but they are the ones responsible. Wonderful kids don't get to be wonderful by accident; it takes parental involvement and time and most of all, love. When you add all the pieces together, the composition is a team named the Jazz. And that's music to my ears this summer as it has been for many summers.

Applicable quote of the day:
Experience is the teacher of all things.

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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