I’ve been spending some of my North Carolina evenings shooting hoops, taking advantage of the opportunity to get outside during the winter months. Shooting around was something that I did growing up, but gave up after 9th grade basketball season. Why? At the time, I spent a lot of the time on the bench, and even though I loved my team, I wasn’t in love with the sport enough to try to keep playing in high school. I was okay taking my talents elsewhere and focusing on running. I never really missed it, but it was a game that my Dad loved. He was a proud member of the 1972 Sectional Championship team of the Pine Village Pine Knots. When I was growing up, my Dad would play pick-up basketball at the Oxford gym on Wednesday nights. He loved it. And I don’t remember when he stopped playing (possibly when he was diagnosed with cancer), but he definitely continued watching every Purdue game and loved watching his daughters and grandkids play. There was even that game in 5th grade when I was the leading scorer against the Boswell Blackhawks. I was fouled, made 1 free throw, and was a highlight for the Oxford Blue Devils as we lost 50 something to 1. Shout out to you if if you were in that gym that night! I know that he would be so proud of his oldest granddaughters Emma and Claire who are part of the 2020 Benton Central Lady Bison Sectional Championship team. I know that he was cheering them on from heaven.
I’ve played a few games of HORSE or PIG throughout the years, but really no desire to get back into playing basketball. Watching basketball, definitely, but not really playing. When my Dad’s birthday rolled around this January, I thought, I could buy a basketball and shoot at the hoop at the top of the hill in my neighborhood. I did, and have spent a few times just shooting around. And guess what, it is so much fun! There’s no pressure to win. No one cares if my shot goes in or not. And, I have found that the more I practice, the better that I am getting. It’s a way to relieve stress, and I’ve really been enjoying it. I understand why my Dad enjoyed shooting for hours as he was growing up. At times, it feels like he’s there with me shooting baskets, and I guess that’s probably the part that I love the most. A fun way to honor his memory and feel his spirit.
So, maybe I forgot that I did love playing basketball. Because as I spend my evenings around the hoop, it’s hard to remember why I gave it up. Maybe I took a break, and maybe I never quit. Maybe Dad took a break when he could no longer physically play, and maybe he never quit either. Just taking a rest as an opportunity to encourage and cheer on (or yell at!) other players. I’m pretty sure he is drilling threes in heaven, playing with his teammates that were lost along the way, including my Uncle Steve. I bet they are celebrating a Lady Bison victory, and I know that he is happy watching me shoot around, and that Emma and Claire got to be on a championship winning team. I always wanted to make my Dad proud, and even though I wasn’t the best basketball player growing up, I know that he was always proud of me and is still. One lesson that I have learned is that when you love something, you don’t quit.