Week # 2 of WCS Wildcat Basketball Camp has begun! For the second week in a row, and for only the second time in the history of the camp. we have no girls in the morning co-ed session. Camp Director Trey Austin gave me the choice of which age group to coach- I took a deep breath and picked the kindergarten age boys, also a groundbreaking development! This was a conversation I had with Dawson, one of the five members of my squad, the Zebras, as we stood in our stretching line:
"Coach, have you seen the movie Land Of The Lost?"
"It's about dinosaurs."
"I have a thousand dinosaurs."
"Do you want to come to my house to see them?"
His grandmother who picks him up when camp is over told me Dawson is obsessed with dinosaurs. I am definitely in agreement! The things you learn when you coach five year old boys!
Truthfully, I didn't want to coach the Zebras simply because of the dinosaur crash course courtesy of Dawson. I chose the Zebras because Noah was on that team. Now, I have a great nephew named Noah about the same age but that wasn't the reason. This Noah's parents are both WCS grads and they both are educators. But that's not really it either. You see, Noah's mom, Nancy, was my teacher's aide more than a decade ago and the first one who really became like a rock star in our school. Due to our eighteen year running project of collecting loose change to build orphanages in Honduras and now Haiti, I am in every classroom every year, starting with the kids who are five. Nancy, a 2004 Westbury Christian graduate, was one who made a huge impact. This is what I wrote about her in 2006:
I always introduce my aides to the kids and for some reason, I decided Nancy needed a title which would describe her and help the little ones remember this senior. THE LOVELY NANCY BARRERA just seemed to fit. The kids fell in love with her and would get so excited when they would see her in the halls. When they noticed her with her boyfriend, it might as well have been on Entertainment Tonight! Nancy made a special connection with the first graders. She would read to them and laugh with them. She treated each child as if he or she were the most important person in the school. We have practically every ethnic group in the world represented at WCS and they all saw her as being like them. Kids respond to love with love and they loved her. We all did. Each grading period, the faculty selects a "Student of the Six Weeks." Incredibly, going into her last two months at WCS, Nancy- an honor roll student involved in cheerleading, soccer, volleyball, etc.- had never been the recipient. Bradley Crider and I campaigned and Nancy became the honoree. The presentations are made during all-school chapel. When our Headmaster, Bob McCloy, announced the winner was THE LOVELY NANCY BARRERA, I thought the kindergarten through fourth grades would riot! Their hero was getting her due. Little ones identify quality- it was instant recognition with Nancy.
And that's why I wanted to coach Noah. I found out several things quickly this morning. He's a good athlete, an accomplished soccer player and swimmer. He's a good listener; he remembered Vanessa made seventeen shots in a row in camp on Friday AND he knows I'm going to Vietnam in three weeks. And, he has the world's cutest little sister, too! Not surprisingly, Noah was the Zebra's recipient of the Camper of the Day for our word of the day, ATTITUDE! I introduced Noah by saying, "He's the only camper whose mom's picture is on the wall of this gym!" (Nancy and her fellow cheerleaders graced the numerous Wildcat/Lady Wildcat State Basketball Champions displays.) Noah bounced up in front of everybody and had his picture taken with me and his award. Do you know what really impressed me, though? Before he left this morning, Noah found me and said, "Thank you, Coach Hawley!" Little ones usually are too preoccupied to express gratitude. Not this one.
I always liked it when I met people who knew my parents when they were younger. That's why I like working with the son of Nancy and Alvaro. I can see his mom and dad in the way Noah acts and interacts with those his age and with adults. He's still a child but he will grow up to be a good man. Perhaps the most quoted scriptural admonition for the minefield that is parenting comes from Proverbs chapter 22 and verse 6:
We know that can't be an absolute guarantee of raising perfect kids who become highly functional and successful adults- we all see families with several children who share nothing but DNA. Some scholars think it is more of a warning NOT to let your kids do whatever they want. But at the very least, it's a predictor of likelihood of boys and girls who will in the long run make mom and dad proud. As someone who has seen and worked with a multitude of children over the years, I can testify that Noah is definitely on the right path. I'm just thrilled that path is running through our gym this week.
Applicable quote of the day:
I think all of us are five years old in the presence and absence of our parents.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org