I have had the wonderful experience this week of watching my daughter and her team play a lot of basketball. They played Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week. They were fighting for an undefeated season and the right to be called the 6th grade champions. In a community where many of the kids play Travel or Select level sports, I feel like this House team of little girls / almost teenagers was a special bunch. During his remarks to the girls after the game last night, I think the coach identified the trait these girls possessed that made them so special. These girls were unusually, often spectacularly, unselfish.
I am not an athlete, but I am something of a student of human nature. I love to watch sports and I particularly love seeing my kids work hard and enjoy what they are playing. This is the only sport that my older daughter plays, so this is her opportunity each year to be part of a team. Being part of a team is a wonderful laboratory for many life lessons and this year the lessons were all good. As is usually the case, there was a wide variety of skill levels on this team. A couple of the girls were tall and rarely missed a rebound. A couple of the girls were amazing ball handlers and often had the opportunity to score some points. A couple of the girls had a wonderful ability to adapt to wherever they were needed on offense or defense. And a couple of the girls were eager and willing to learn, though they started out the year with perhaps a few less skills than the other girls 🙂
Here’s what they learned this year: when you care enough about one another individually to let everyone really play, the whole team gets better. When you give up trying to make yourself look good, you might have the opportunity to make your whole team look great. When you care more about everyone having fun and learning something than you do about winning, sometimes you win anyway. When you play fair, even when the other team doesn’t, you become a winner in the most important ways. When you trust your teammates to keep trying hard, even when they make a mistake, you gain friends and teammates that you can count on. When you listen to your coach and trust his authority, you learn some pretty useful things.
This team of sweet girls had not one single ball hog, show-off, or whiner. They encouraged one another, praised one another and supported one another. This “team” of parents cheered for each other’s kids as much as their own and (mostly) didn’t argue with the officials. This coach cared more about each child feeling good about their participation and learning something new about basketball (and life) than he did about winning. This team was all about the good things you can learn from playing sports and being part of a team.
Oh, and by the way, they were also 12-0! The 6th grade Champions!! Way to go, girls!! We’re so proud of you!