I began my latest, greatest personal challenge in September, one that I wrote about a few months ago. The serious quest to become a scratch golfer is about a month in, and let me share some early results. Over the summer, I had a couple of rounds in the 100s (albeit at professional courses), but I have mainly hovered in the mid 90s for the better part of 2018. Just in the last few weeks, I’ve crept back into the 80s, and have stayed there consistently for the last couple of rounds. That all sounds so easy, but let me assure you it wasn’t and won’t be. The real grinding will begin soon. I’m so excited, but I will need some inspiration, and this is where my son comes in.
He’s 3 1/2 years old, and he started “playing” basketball a few months ago. I had taken him to a few Charlotte Hornets games, but otherwise this was brand new to him. Practice on Tuesdays. Games on Saturdays. A little bit of beebopping in between.
The goal of this league is twofold. First and foremost, fun. Second, start building some skills. At the first practice, he could not lift the ball above his head. He shot the ball granny style straight up in the air to no one and nothing in particular. He still preferred to kick the ball around the court soccer-style (to which I secretly gave him high fives).
I remember thinking to myself how interesting this is going to be because it reminded me of last year’s marathon journey. At the start, I didn’t know a damn thing about distance running, and at the end I ran the NYC Marathon. That grind remains one of the most rewarding processes of my life.
Tuesday after Tuesday, we showed up for basketball practice. Phones away. Only encouragement and smiles and high fives from momma and me and coach. And he got a little better. And a little better. And then games started, and having scrappy opponents set him back to square one.
But he kept working. Shooting. Dribbling. Passing. Talking like a dad-blamed 3 year old socialite to anyone who would listen (cuz that’s what he does). We were all so proud. He was having fun, and the progress was extremely visible.
The next few games were a lot of the same. Just aimless 3 year old basketball. It culminated a few weeks ago on game day when he simply wasn’t bothered, laid down during the game, and called it a day. It was a good reminder that we all have our moments, and that as much as I love the motto “No Days Off”, we all need them.
But he kept at it. I was secretly prouder about this than anything in my life. And then this past Saturday, we invited Grandma, Granddad, and our friend Tina to see the big man play. I told him before the game what I always tell him. Have fun. But then I added that it would be cool to score a basket for Grandma and Granddad (he hadn’t scored all year long). Just like his dad, the boy loves a good audience, and no sooner had the game started had he scored his first basket. Momma, Grandma, and Granddad screamed with excitement, while I could feel tears streaming down my face.
Tina arrived a few minutes later, to which Banks was well pleased. As they entered the 4th quarter, I gave him a hug and told him it would be really cool to score a bucket for Miss Tina. He immediately got a bounce in his step, grabbed a rebound, and by sheer will dribbled (kind of) down the court and made his second shot ever. They all screamed, and I was back to crying.
Watching not just Banks but the whole team improve has been so rewarding. Two other kids made their first baskets last week, and I was so happy for them and their parents as well.
I know it is just 3 year old basketball, but it has been a bona fide inspiration to me about how someone can go from not being able to hold the ball over his head two months ago to dribbling, passing, and making two baskets.
As we ate lunch afterwards, my mom mentioned how she wished that she had those two baskets on video. But she caught herself, just as I was about to pipe in. “But we saw it with our own two eyes, and nothing beats that!”
I’ve seen every step of the journey with my own two eyes starting about two months ago, and I have never been prouder of anything in my life.
By the way, does anyone have a tissue I can borrow?
Have a great week.-Benj
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