Thursday, February 28, 2008
Kyra's playing basketball this winter, a great accomplishment for our six year old! She's played two nights thus far, and the change between night one and night two was astonishing. Anxiety was running high on night one--for the parents, at least! They had cancelled the K-1 girls' league, offering us the opportunity to play in a K-1 co-ed program. Snows were falling heavily that first night, and over half her team didn't show--she was the only girl. Feminist mama that I am, I was crestfallen. If the evening destroyed her hopes and interest, I was going to be furious! She soldiered on, though, demonstrating that being a great listener and learner is key for any organized sport at this age.
Shot after shot went "swoosh" through the net as they spent the first half hour on fundamentals. She put every suggestion into play, shifting from simply thrusting the ball toward the basket to a clear dominant hand shot, using her left hand as a guide. She paused, she concentrated, she listened, she focused, and she was rewarded. The ball was hitting her mark! But the half hour ended, and it was time to "scrimmage" with the other team--a not-so-descriptive word for the minor chaos that is young kids' basketball.
Given that there were no substitutes, Kyra was up and playing for the entire "game." The rules are simple and good: no stealing the ball, pass three times before taking a shot, give the other team time to clear down to the other end of the court, and so on. The coaches are zooming up and down with them, calling out suggestions, pausing the play to encourage them to spread out, share the ball, take the shot, etc. (I LOVE these coaches--they are accomplishing the impossible, in my mind.) Never before have I realized how much there is to remember: note where the ball is at all times, follow your "buddy" to get your guard arms in the air, dribble if the ball is in your hands, keep moving in the direction of your basket, on and on and on. She was exhausted, she was sweating, and she had run her little heart out, nervously picking at or biting her nails for much of the game. While she said she had had fun, she was clearly beat.
School vacation gave a week's reprieve, and this Tuesday we returned, this time through sleet and rain, to another night's basketball. More of her team had arrived--and she felt the designated expert because of the first night's experience. She was still excelling on the fundamentals, but now, when "game time" came around, her hands were high in the air--ALL THE TIME. It was lovely, and priceless. She would have run down the court with her hands in the air were it natural or comfortable. She was ready!
Given that more of the team was in attendance, they were able to use subs. She got a rest or two. She was included by her teammates in plans to set up plays. (Yes, even at 5 and 6 there are superstar players, already trying to set the pick and make their move!) And at the end, as she guzzled water at the drinking fountain, she looked up at me and said, "I LOVE IT IN THERE!"
We do, too, dear child! We do, too.