Monday, September 17, 2012

Brokenhearted Basketball Player

Connor loves basketball. He has loved it since he was a tiny boy shooting hoops with dad and his Little Tikes basketball net. He started playing in the YMCA youth league in Fredericton in grade one, and last year he played on his first competitive team. He loved every minute of it, right up to the heartbreaking finish at the OBA tournament in March.

Try-outs for this year's team were last week. He spent Monday and Thursday evenings running drills and shooting hoops with his buddies, most of whom were on his team last year. He came home exhausted each night, but excited about the prospects for the coming year. Chris and I worried a bit about whether or not he is ready for basketball at this level. There are no equal playing time rules this year, and we really didn't want to see him spend the year on the bench. But I thought surely the boys from last year's team had the best shot at making the team this year.

The team roster was to be posted on the website on Saturday by 8:00 p.m. We spent the day at Canada's Wonderland, and didn't get home until 11:30. Chris and I checked immediately, but the site had not been updated. I checked a number of times before I finally went to bed, but the roster was empty. When I woke up the next morning, Chris was reading his iPod. "He didn't make it," he said. My heart sank. How would we tell Connor? We spent 20 minutes discussing our strategy for breaking this inevitably devastating news to our precious son before heading downstairs to find him watching TV with his sister. He turned to us with red eyes and said "Did you see the website?" He had already checked as soon as he woke up. I opened my arms and he fell into them and cried. My boy's heart was broken and there wasn't one thing I could do about it.

He wasn't angry. He didn't ask "Why?" He didn't blame anyone or begrudge any of his friends who had made the team. He even admitted that it was better to not be on the team at all than to ride bench all season. He was just so sad.

We had planned to fall back on the opportunity this would give Connor to play on his school basketball team this year. School ball is not nearly as competitive as OBA basketball at this level, and he would certainly do well representing Lambeth Public School. However, with the current situation in Ontario schools, it is unlikely there will be a basketball team this year. Or possibly next year, for that matter. And that means no basketball at all for Connor. And that breaks my heart.

I wish it was just about not making this team. I wish it wasn't also about not playing basketball at all. I wish it wasn't about no longer seeing all the friends he made on the team last year (They don't go to his school, or even live near enough to get together easily). I wish Connor's self-esteem was not so wrapped up in being a basketball player. I pray that it isn't, in the end. I pray that he knows that he is an amazing kid who is good at so many things, whose parents and so many others love him and appreciate his kind heart and great attitude, who just happens to like to play basketball. And I also hope he continues to love basketball. I'll miss hearing the rhythmic bounce, bounce, bounce on the driveway, and seeing his ecstatic grin when he makes a great shot.

Connor recovered amazingly well yesterday. He showered and got ready for church, even joking around with us at breakfast. We took his buddy with us when we went out for brunch after church, and they spent the afternoon together. His only other mention of the sad news was last night when Janelle was talking about the class Chris is taking on Monday nights. "I guess Monday's won't be so hard for you now, Mom," not adding "now that I won't have basketball practice". I know how he's hurting inside, but I know he's trying to make the best of it and keep a smile on his face. That's my sweet boy.

Being a parent is HARD!


  1. Would love to come over after school and help him work on his game. Which night of the week would work best for you all.

  2. Oh honey, I totally feel for you. And Connorman.

  3. Poor guy! So great that he has such a good attitude about it though.

  4. My girls are waiting for soccer try out results (tomorrow). And I am planning my response just in case one of them makes the team and the other does not. It's a lesson...but a hard one for them.