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Saturday, February 15, 2014

ALL SPORTS PARENTS HAVE THEIR “HOOSIERS MOMENTS” – THIS IS MINE

All across America, every day, sports parents take their children to dance, soccer, baseball, football, basketball, cheer and lacrosse practices, to name a few.  Starting at maybe age 5 or 6 ,on average.  We are the faithful, faceless, hopeful masses in the crowd.  Ever present, ever supportive, win lose or draw, hoping only that our child will look up into the stands and catch our eye. 

      Nobody wins all the time, usually you are lucky to be on a team that is better than average.  And then, just a few times in a Lifetime, there is that “Hoosiers Moment,” that makes every damn practice, game, road trip, regatta, clinic, fundraiser, coin drop, banquet, check, and press release worth it.  For Mrs. Lo, that moment occurred during Christian’s BDMS varsity basketball team’s last regular season home game, against The Other Team (we’ll call them “TOT”).  The name of the team is unimportant because in the end, our boys didn’t battle back against another team, they battled against their own fears and insecurities, dug down deep and came up with Thee Win in overtime, after being down by 20 points at the half -- in what their varsity coach called the most exciting game he had ever coached in his career.  It must have been the Pot Roast.
            The day started much like any other.  I woke up thinking about what to feed my kids.  It was Wednesday, and Christian and Danny were scheduled to go to BDMS Drama practice, which is very physical, until 4:30 pm, and have their last home game of the season, which would be the 8th graders’ last home game EVER, at 5:00 pm.  The first thing I did was call Coach Kennedy to consult about what I could feed them.  “At 4:30 pm?  You cannot give them pot roast, Mrs. Lo, you’re not building muscle over the course of 30 minutes.  You can give them bananas, oranges and water.  Or you can get them earlier and feed them a light meal.”  It was 8 am, I was putting the pot roast in the crock pot for dinner and I methodically began an email campaign to get the Varsity Boys excused from Drama so they could come home and eat.  It worked.  The Drama Coach excused them, and I picked up all 3 kids at 2:30pm, and fed them pot roast, vegetables, and noodles at exactly 3:00 pm.  Only one small serving though, not the usual 2 or 3 giant helpings.  And made them drink lots of water.
            We got to the St. Mary’s gym at 5 pm and the game started out pretty badly for us.  Before we knew it, TOT was up by 20 points.  That’s not how we want to go out I said to myself.  They had a nice little presentation for the “seniors” at halftime and that’s when it hit me that this was Christian’s last game here at BDMS.  He had only started playing 2 months ago but still, who wants to go out like this.  Our games tend to be relatively quiet, compared to say a typical local JV game or even my high school’s JV games.  For one thing, we have no cheerleaders.  And so, at one point, when there was dead silence in the gym, I screamed out what I have heard Christian, as a coxswain, yell at his rowers hundreds of times:  “I CAN’T WANT THIS FOR YOU – YOU HAVE TO WANT THIS MORE THAN ME!”  This is not patented by him, lots of coxys say this.  But somebody woke up.
            What happened next is nothing short of a minor Basketball Miracle, the kind that gets played out on gym floors and in stadiums across smalltown and urban America every day.  But when it’s your kids, it’s your very own Hossier Moment.  According to Coach McLoughlin, “Your son just looked up at the scoreboard and went on a tear.  He singlehandedly sparked the team and brought us to within 10 points.  Then when I brought them in, Christian was pumping his fist and telling the players, ‘I refuse to lose.  We all have to refuse to lose.  We are going to win this thing.’  I almost had Christian start coaching the team.”
            Really, all of the players stepped it up.  Everyone contributed.  Jarrett, our star player (affectionately called “Money” by his parents when he is on the floor)  pulled himself back together, although he had not had one moment of rest.  Most importantly, he had gone to Drama practice, and had not come over for pot roast.  But he continued to drive to the basket and make shot after shot.  Danny, who did have the pot roast, was poise under pressure.  He is our workhorse, dependable and unflappable.  All of our seniors were out there getting the job done.  They got to within 5, then 3, then tied it at the buzzer to go into overtime. 
            All of a sudden, the gym wasn’t so quiet.  All of a sudden, the parents realized what was happening here.  And when we looked over at the bench, all of the players, our entire secondary, including Christian, who had fouled out, had spontaneously bowed their heads, folded their hands and were praying.  “I didn’t know what else to do,” said Christian, “I couldn’t help them on the floor since I fouled out, so I just started to pray.”  All the parents noticed it.  And suddenly, we were even more moved and more invested in this game.  Our sleepy little gymnasium wasn’t so quiet anymore.  There was foot stomping and loud cheering and screaming. 
            Overtime was only 4 minutes but it felt like 40 minutes.  It was excruciating.  At first, we were up, then TOT battled back and they were ahead.  And with the game on the line, and both everything and nothing to lose, we all wanted only one person to take the shot.  Only one person had the exquisite poise and nerve.  Money took his shot, we went up by 2 with 10 seconds left.  TOT had the ball and tried valiantly but, although they too are a Catholic school, I did not see any players or coaches praying openly.  But God had certainly heard our players’ prayers, because when TOT threw up the attempted buzzer beater,  it narrowly missed.  The gym erupted in joyous cheers and tears.  For 8 families, it was our child’s last regular season home game, our last time together as a family in this special way. 
As I looked around the gym, I saw the faces of families that we started school with 10 years ago in pre-K.  That’s how long these kids have been together.  Heck, I saw the faces of kids we started with 11 years ago, a lot of us have been together since Union Nursery School.  What a way for these kids to go out.  They will be going to different schools.  Christian and Jarrett and two other boys will be going on to Don Bosco Prep together.  The others will go on to public high schools, Lourdes and some other Catholic high schools. 
But in that moment, although it was time to go, and the air was waiting outside to bite us, for a few more moments, we parents all hung back and let the boys bask in the Glow.  The glow of a victory they worked their tails off for, the glow of youth, the glow of basketball, the glow of friendship, but most of all, the Glow of a fellowship and a bond that can only be had when you are willing to get down on your knees before an entire stadium and pray for your team and your friends.  In that moment, the $100K plus we had paid for Catholic school tuition for 2 boys seemed to be not enough, you can never put a price on an experience that instills such love of God, love of friends, and commitment to excellence.  In that moment, I would have gladly paid double.
            And then I realized what a role we sports parents all have in this game called Raising Our Children.  It’s not just about writing the check, it’s not just about showing up, it’s not just about being invested.  Really, it’s about the Pot Roast.  And on that note, my Dear Readers, I must attend to my Lasagna.

            Have a wonderful day, everyone and, as always, Remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo