Monday, March 15, 2010

Madness Begins Early

The icy wind which rushed through the playground Saturday morning wasn't deterring Lukas. He seemed impervious to the cold. But to me, winter was once again showing its incisors and proving it could still use them to deliver a bite. It didn't help that one glance at the brilliant sunshine outside my living room window had convinced me I wouldn't need a jacket at the early morning toddler soccer practice.

However, sitting there shivering and cursing mother nature under my breath I realized what a mistake that had been. After a while I finally convinced Lukas that we needed to venture inside the large brick building that housed our local community center.

It contained a full basketball court. To my satisfaction it was empty, and WARM.

As we entered onto the court, two worn basketballs lay placidly against the wall like airport taxi drivers sitting against their cabs waiting patiently for a fare. I kicked one past Lukas, who seemed thrilled to chase across the court after it. The other I picked up and felt in my hand. Although rubber and not full grain leather, It still had the sweet feel of familiarity.

I dribbled it once, hard enough to bounce off the wood and rise to my outstretched palm at chest level. I immediately sent it down again, and took pleasure in its predictable return.

I grew up on a small dairy farm in rural Washington state, and ever since I can remember we always had a basketball and hoop to practice with. Hard work and basketball were two essential parts of the fabric of my childhood. I would say that my high school basketball experience was not too unlike the movie Hoosiers, but for the fact that I couldn't hit a consistent jump shot and our small town high school team never made it past districts.

True, I wasn't a great player. Not even a good one really, but I played with an enthusiasm for the game that still burned within me on this chilly Spring Saturday morning. After high school I went on to organize and play for four years on an intramural team at college which went to the finals in the 6' and under league. It was a blast and created some of the most endearing memories from my college days.

However, in recent years, as I have left 40 in the rear view mirror, I have not played basketball in quite some time, save for a few days at the gym shooting around and practicing my dribbling. But on Saturday morning, shooting around and playing ball with my 2 year old son, I realized how much I have missed the hardwood. Baseball is my favorite spectator sport, but basketball I love to play.

Dribbling around that empty gymnasium I paused for a few moments, looked over at my enthusiastic boy, and thought to myself that perhaps that love could be translated into something positive for him. Maybe along the way a team of his could use a coach or a volunteer when the time comes. I think I would enjoy that.

And as I watched Lukas grinning from ear to ear as he lifted the big orange ball over his head and launched it skyward toward the 10 foot high rim, it gave me hope. Hope and reason to reintroduce myself, and my son, to my favorite of sports.

Even if the ball only made it to about 4 foot high, before falling gently back to the court and bouncing slowly away.


Anonymous said...

I love basketball as well and hope to play with my kids as they get bigger.

PJ Mullen said...

The closest we've come is the net at Gymboree. It's pretty funny to watch little man's slow motion dunks.

Mrs. M said...

Great post! There is a boy my daughters age who lives up the street from us and he does not go anywhere without a basketball. And very often a hoop too. Just in case. They have so many hoops at their house! Not sure who he is going to grow up to be but he sure loves basketball right now!

Jack Steiner said...

I still play and dread the idea that one day I might have to give it up.

Steve said...

After a few years off, I have recently taken up 5-a-side football (soccer) again, inspired by my son's interest and by wanting to set him a good example.

Anonymous said...

i LOVE basketball. we recently got a little goal for the kiddos, one of those plastic deals for inside. they are finally to the point where they can give the ol' man a pretty solid chest pass, but aren't yet to the point where they can put it in. except for the tippy-toe, roll-it-over-the-rim dunk that they've all three mastered.

ericdbolton said...

My 4YO is starting tBall. I'm quite the proud poppa.

If I Could Escape . . . said...

Awww, great post. I swam for my school and did the high jump, however when I was in high school, our teachers were on semi-strike for most of the time. They refused to do anything that was outside of regular school hours which included any kind of competitive sporting events. Who knows? I could've been an Olympian! =(

James (SeattleDad) said...

@sahpdx - Yeah, I just need to keep myself in shape in order to do so myself. Not easy these days.

@PJ - Awesome. I'll have to look for him in the Dunk competion some day.

@Mighty M - I doubt we will be that dedicated to one sport, but who knows what he will take to.

@Jack - Yes, that will be a sad day.

@Steve - Godo for you. I hope to do the same with Basketball.

@JCO - That is the same dunk that Lukas has mastered with his Little Tikes hoop! Thanks for stopping by.

@Eric - Lukas is also very interested in baseball these days. It will be fun when he can actually start on a team.

@If I could Escape - How many potential mega stars have situations such as that stiffled? It's a cryin shame!