Last year was a hard year for the boy’s varsity basketball team. There are so many factors at a prep school. Do you go out and recruit? Do you play everyone in your league or only those you can be competitive with? Today they play Brewster, at Brewster, a prep school ranked in the Top Ten of the nation! G trudged to school. It’s hard to compete.
Yet off he goes, season after season, to coach another game. Because there are lessons to be learned from sport. And sometimes they win.
Many teams they play have a staff of three, four, or five coaches. We always have two. It’s our winning dynamic duo.
These pictures were taken before Christmas break. It was a game they had to win.
It came down to the last seconds.
A time out was called. What’s the play going to be?
One of my favorite moments of every game is looking across the gym and seeing Art take a break from the kitchen, to watch the game. We then have a breakdown analysis in the dining hall afterwards.
We can do it, big team.
The seconds tick by. The score stays the same, but anticipation rises. I feel myself saying, Come on, please, please, please. I’m not sure who I say this too. Does God really have a favorite sport teams?
The final buzzer goes off…and we win the game! The crowd goes crazy. The high will last a few hours. Until the next game, when we lose. We sure love the winners. We particularly like the underdog, who comes from behind, beats the odds, and pulls it all out. This is that team this year.
The obligatory handshake. I love that Coach G. most often coaches the tallest kids in school.
Basketball is all in the family. This is the year my son is really getting the game. He better, his shoes cost enough to take me for a nice dinner! When I protested, I remembered when I first got my first pair of good shoes for track in 6th grade. I couldn’t stop staring at them. I was sure I was unstoppable in them. Do you find, that a shoe, a most desired item of clothing can inspire your child?
Fifth graders on the bench. Looking more grown up every day.
Skinny like his mama, intense like his dad, competitive like them both. I still yell, “Go Nellie!” and he hasn’t told me to stop. There are months of basketball left to watch. I find myself excited to cheer and root for the underdogs – my boys.
Post-edit note: G’s team did play a top ten team in the nation yesterday, but Brewster Academy is not just top ten. They are ranked NUMBER ONE in the nation, with five of their players already signed to Division I schools. First we’re watching them on ESPN, and then we’re in their gym getting whooped by 40. You know what? Our boys made us proud. They never let up and the coach in this house came home with a smile on his face. And a box of pizza.
Every year Gregor has an alumni basketball game. All the boys he’s coached over the past 13(!) years are invited to come and play a friendly/competitive basketball game with the current basketball team.
We had an amazing turn-out this year – more than I can ever remember. So many boys we love! My children love them too and always ask when they’re coming back. Sometimes they cry at graduation they’ll miss someone so much. These boys have always been so good to my children. They’ve all gone on to do such good things, many of them playing college basketball, graduating from college, getting jobs, getting married, having kids…
Dane Phillips, Jerome Dyson, and Ulisias Veras. These boys were all in our dorm. So many good memories. To this day I will never forget when Jerome sunk a 3 point shot ON THE BUZZER to win the Lakes Region Championship against Brewster. The crowd went wild and stormed the court.
Oh these boys…our Rhode Island boys. Anothony and Carlos. Wise crackers you wouldn’t believe. They still love the short jokes. The combination of their laughs is priceless. They were also in Summerfield Dorm when we were dorm parents. All those room inspections, Sunday night meetings, and brownie mixes.
Jack Minister, from England. He was at Proctor when Cope was in her Harry Potter fanaticism stage. Jack was also in our dorm. We called Jack, the Minister of Magic, and thus he’s remained. Too bad Cope is closing her eyes. She yelled out the the score and comments through the bullhorn the whole game. Jack was with Gregor when he picked me up from the hospital with Paige. We went to eat a giant cheeseburger. Jack is engaged! and just graduated from college.
Ben Bartoldus (closest shot) plays for Brandeis University, James Cormier with red shorts plays college bball, and Adrian is coming onto court. He used to have long braids and was called, “Worms.”
A rainbow is spotted during half-time.
After a brief dispute, the buzzer finally rings and the boys shake hands and give hugs to adoring fans. Then it’s time to eat! Lots of meat. More short jokes.
Matt Williams, now on a football scholarship, Anthony, Adrian, Carlos, and Jerome. Cope loves the attention. And that she gets to drink soda.
The next day, on Sunday, we traveled to Boston where Christian Yemga graduated from Brandeis University with a business degree. Christian is from Camaroon. He’ll begin his Master’s degree this fall.
He hadn’t seen his mother in four years. And not for four years before that when he graduated from Proctor! His mother only speaks French and I was so impressed at how well Christian took care of her.
I remember when Christian came to Proctor, barely speaking English himself. He worked so hard and had to grow up fast. We’re so proud of him!
In this picture I’ve just woken from an afternoon slumber in the car, and Cope was still in the car sleeping…I’m wearing the dress Christian’s mom made me. Between Christian’s mother and Simone’s mother, I have a whole wardrobe of African apparel. I really love this orange dress.
It was a busy weekend, but a great one. It reaffirmed one of the reasons we are teachers. Seeing kids learn, make mistakes, grow, and come back to thank you is one of the greatest rewards we’ll have in this life. It was, of course, especially meaningful for Gregor who had the most contact with these boys. The heart to heart talks, lectures, breath tests, girlfriend warnings, workouts, English paper help, Spanish conversing, wrestling matches, half-time speeches, and advice – all of these moments accumulate into a relationship that will last forever. It was an honor for him to have them gather in one place and play the game that brought boys together and made them a team. They consider themselves brothers and will be close for life.
At the end of the night Gregor laid down on the couch and said, “That was good for the soul.”
It’s a hard balance knowing when to push your kids and when to back off and let them make their own decisions. They are getting older. The decisions are less about physical harm (you will get burned if you touch that stove!) to more emotional, social, and moral. It’s especially hard when the consequences are painful but you know they need to learn from it.
This was the case a few weeks ago when Nelson was going through a rough patch with basketball. He’d had a tough day of soccer, then basketball, and then fell on the ice. He said his knee hurt, he limped, and he absolutely COULD NOT play in his game. Though I do believe his knee was sore, I suspected there was a larger issue. I thought he was nervous and just wanted to forget he had ever signed up.
My dad with Brynne on his lap…thank goodness. Watching sports with my two little girls can be such a treat (not).
The big day came and Nelson came home from school. Nope, leg was still lame, couldn’t play. I had been thinking about it all day, had discussed it with Gregor, and decided that he should have to at least try. There were tears, anger, “I can’t do it!”and mom and dad saying, “You just have to try. You’re part of the team. If you really can’t play then you can sit on the bench with your team.”
“I don’t WANT TOO!”
“Tough. You’re going.”
I have to say that I’m a rather impatient person when it comes to illnesses or injuries. It’s a weakness I’m working on.
But I made him go.
Then I watched from the sidelines.
Was it the right decision?
Nelson was happy when I wrapped his leg with an Ace bandage. It made him feel a little more secure and he got some attention from his teammates.
And then…he was off.
He played the whole game. Afterwards, when we asked if his leg hurt, he shrugged and said, “a little.”
There are only six boys on Nelson’s team. He is not the best player. He is not the worst. He does not practice on his own every second he can get, like some boys do. He is small, is not overly aggressive, and he hates to lose. He takes it very hard.
In this case, I think we made the right call. We made him do something that was hard. And it worked out. I think it was good for him. I want my kids to do hard things. In fact I want a big sign in my kitchen saying, “We Do Hard Things.”
But it won’t always be my decision. I’m still not sure I have the right balance. In high school my parents let me quit track. To this day, it’s my biggest regret. I threw away a lot of opportunity when it really mattered. I failed in that decision, but I also learned from it. I think it made me stronger, more resolute about the kind of person I wanted to be.