Back on those old, hard bleachers
I wasn’t an athlete as a child. I never played on a team or had a coach. When I was growing up, we moved every time my dad got promoted in sales at the bread company where he worked, so there wasn’t much opportunity to earn a spot on a sports team. While moving to a new town with all its unknown opportunities was exciting in its own way, the only thing I knew about sports was listening to the Cardinals on the radio and playing catch in the backyard with my dad.
When my husband, Tim, and I moved to Pontiac with our two daughters – Jessica, a fourth grader, and Jenny, a kindergartener – we knew we were here to stay. We wanted our girls to have lifelong friends in a familiar school and have opportunities to play and enjoy sports.
While the athletic gene seems to have skipped our entire family (none of us can run fast or jump more than a few inches off the ground), the girls worked hard and played hard on sports teams throughout their growing-up years. They had fun, and they learned one of what I consider the best lessons in life: hard work gets results.
While Jessica and Jenny were learning about hard work, Tim and I learned how hard the bleachers can be. We also learned that there was no place we’d rather be than sitting on those hard bleachers watching the girls out on the softball field or on the gym floor.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that the girls were in school and playing ball. Time goes by so fast, it was hard for me to believe that we all were piling onto the bleachers at Mark Twain School Friday night to watch my 10-year-old grandson Zeke play basketball for the Pirates. Truly, it seems like yesterday that his mother Jenny was that age and insisting that her hair ribbons must match her socks when she was getting ready for a game.
The bleachers at Mark Twain were just as hard as I remember them being at Gainesville. I sat there on those hard bleachers with my husband and both my daughters, holding my youngest grandchild, 7-month-old Bonnie Mae, and remembered what a short time ago it was that Zeke’s mother was playing.
I watched the Pirates run out on the floor and gather round coach Joe Donley as he sketched out the play on his clipboard. The game started, and my heart started racing in that old familiar way when I saw the pass to Zeke, who was standing unguarded in a perfect position to shoot.
Last year, he would not shoot the ball under any circumstances. He honestly didn’t want to touch the ball at all if he had his way. He would’ve much rather been reading a good book or drawing a picture somewhere.
But that was last year. Friday night, when the pass went to Zeke, my heart beat a little faster, just like it did when his mother or his aunt had the ball all those years ago.
Zeke didn’t hesitate. He took the shot. It rose in a perfect arc … then swished through the net. The first two points of the game were on the scoreboard, and Zeke’s first-ever career points were in the book.
Tim and I – and nearly everyone else – went wild with joy, clapping and yelling just like we did so many years ago. And I saw Zeke glance up at all of us sitting on those hard bleachers to see our reaction. Just like his mama did when she was 10.