Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bella's Heroic Epic

We have two dry-erase boards in the hallway that leads to the bedrooms.  One belongs to the parents.  The other belongs to the kids.

I found myself in an overflow situation and spilled over onto the kid’s whiteboard.  The topic on the kid’s board was “Future blog posts”.

The kid’s thought I was soliciting their advice and they accommodated me.

Belladonna’s Awesome Athletic Prowess

I make a conscious effort to not write much about my kid’s sports endeavors.  I want their efforts and successes to be their’s and their’s alone.  I also want to avoid being one of those whiny parents when the rest of the world does not recognize their child's awesomeness.

Bella is playing basketball.  She is a senior but has not been a starter.  This rankled her a bit but I see it as a huge life lesson.

The vast majority of any organization is made up of the rank-and-file.  If we are heroes, it is mostly in our own minds.  Hence, the enduring appeal of Walter Mitty.

Very, very few people in any organization are “the chosen”.  It is a very narrow gate to become one of the chosen.  One must be from the right family, have gone to the right schools, joined the correct fraternal organizations, be considered politically "reliable"…and so on. 

Early in life every kid is a star.  Every kid in rec-league ball gets a medal.  Life becomes progressively more competitive as we get older.

But what to do?

Bella’s play early in the season did not have the “snap” I know she is capable of.  I think it was a matter of despondency…a sense of fatalism.  It did not matter what she did, she was never going to be a starter.

I talked with a family friend who is an awesome coach and came up with a plan.

I pay her a dollar for each rebound.  I pay her a dollar for every turn-over she forces.  And, after much thought, I pay her a dollar for each foul she gets.

Visualize an M-1 Abram’s tank playing basketball amidst 9 unicycles.  That is Bella.  Inexplicable things happen to the other players around her.  Her teammates know this and give her a wide berth.

Belladonna boxed out for a rebound and three girls on the opposing team either fell over or were pushed out of bounds.

An opposing player tried to push through Bella’s weakside arm from behind to get better position.  The arm bent like the arm of a midevil catapult, and then sprung.  The girl found herself sitting down 8 feet behind Bella with a very surprised expression on her face.  This player was the most massive player on the opposing team.  And Bella did it with pure shoulder strength.

The officials see the swath of players flipped like tiddly-winks and inexplicably falling down.  They assume Bella is moving into them or pushing them. 

It is inevitable that Belladonna will get many fouls if she is playing up to her potential.  Bella ended up fouling out of the last game.  One of those fouls was real, she leaped to block a shot and got the shooter’s arms.  The other four were based on circumstantial, forensic evidence.

A person who is afraid to do their job cannot do their job.   

Bella plays with a new sense of purpose.  I ended up paying her $15 between rebounds, turn-overs and fouls.   That is a good haul for coming off the bench.

That might be the final life-lesson:  Finding strategies to feed our own, personal, heroic epic…even if “the organization” does not consider us one of the chosen.

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