Yes. I said hate.
The beginning of the season we had to play some tough, tough teams---and we probably did too much coaching (after all, these boys are just 9 and 10) and we did not allow the boys to have fun. We lost more than we were winning...unfortunately...and many of those games were lost by only 1 or 2 points. Heartbreaking.
And for such competitive coaches it was devastating.
Then my wise father, former college basketball player, said to me, "Paige. Are the boys even having fun? Are you? Make it fun for them and their skill level will show in their play."
So we sat down and told them to relax. We told them WE would relax. And we told them to have fun.
Cue the next game. I just KNEW we were gonna win.
I began to think that is was perhaps the coaching...umph! Nice gut check. We had such skill on our team and yet we couldn't show it on the court.
The last two games of the regular season were staring us in the face. We were 3-5. The league has two tournaments-a Gold Tournament and a Silver Tournament. The gold had the requirement that you had to be 5-5 to be considered. The silver was anybody with less than a 5-5 record.
Our boys did not want to play in the silver. In fact, a few of them said to me that they would rather not play if the silver was the only option. WOW. I even heard one say, "Who wants to be the winner of the losers?" :)
So, I sat them down and told them that they had to win their last two games in order to go to the gold. And do you know what they did? They stepped it up. Boy oh boy did they step it up! We won both games...one by about 10 and one by 1 in the last few seconds of the game.
So we were off to the gold. We had to play a team in the first round that had beaten us by 3 in the regular season. Our game was at 1 and we asked the parents for them at 11 so we could shoot around, get warmed up and do some team building.
We won that game by 18.
I should insert here that the boys in our family (Will and my nephews) had been learning some BIG lessons from God. Take a stand for Him and He will show up. My nephews did just that with their basketball team and He showed up on court with them. Will wanted to make that stand...and timidly did, but not in the same way. He asked God to help him be an example to his team. He wanted to be a good leader and show others how he relied on God to help him. He prayed before his games and told God that no matter what He would give Him the glory. As the mom, I was begging God to let them win their games...so Will could see He was with him too, just like he was with Joey and Josh.
God showed up in that first game of the tournament big time for Will.
Next up in the tournament were our arch rivals.
The other team from our same school. Beat us by 1 in the regular season on a last second 3 pointer. They were undefeated. They were talking trash already.
Our game was an 8 o'clock game. We asked for the kids at 6 so we could warm up, shoot around and I wanted to show them the deathcrawl scene from Facing the Giants. Go watch it here if you have not ever seen it or if it has been a while.
We left to go to our game together. We did our new team cheer walking in the building--taken from the movie "Red Tails" Will changed the words to "Til the last bucket, til the last minute, til the last second, We fight (we fight), We fight (we fight)."
And fight we did. We won! Yeah! 31-23. And Will had 13 points! Holy cow. His best game ever. Thank you, Lord. There was a time in the game when Will was being beat up and he came over to the timeout crying--and Jill looked at him and said, "This is your deathcrawl moment!" The look on his face was priceless!!
So on we march...and our next game was up against a totally stacked team (seriously, they are a travel team and have beaten everyone this year by about 30). They were the defending league champs from last year. We met early. Served them dinner. Traveled to our game as a team.
At the end of the first quarter the score was 4-4. We took a deep breath. Maybe it was too deep. Halftime score was 19-6. We battled back...we got within 8. But they were bigger and stronger and our awesome team was DONE! They played hard but they were exhausted! We lost. 46-32.
But I have never been prouder.
I am so proud of how Will came on strong this year as a player.
And I am super proud of this team! We entered the tournament in 11th place and finished in fourth! Yeah, I would have liked to have been the winner, but in so many ways we were. Coaching was the hardest thing I have done in a long time!!!! But the rewards hugely outweighed the difficulties!
It was one wild, fun, amazing ride...