20 February 2004

Things you learn in a small town

Not a lot of inspirational stuff going on this week.  A bunch of us went downstate to see my nephew play his last home high school basketball game Tuesday.  I forgot how much I like the closed-in setting of a high school gymnasium for basketball, how you can hear the pound of every dribble, every word the coach says to his team and to the officials, and the assorted noises the players make as they play the game.

That's where my nephew comes in.  He's not an offensive force, though he is active without the ball and reacts properly should he find it in his possession.  But the kid can play defense.  He holds a defensive position as well as any seventeen year old I've seen play and has the uncanny ability to not leave his feet unless the ball is going in the air.  He can rebound, block shots and get steals.  But the highlight of this particular game was his ability to draw offensive fouls.  He did it three times and had a fourth one waved off by a foul on another player. 

Coaches love that stuff.  And it's clear that my nephew has spent time studying defense, because each time he took a charge, he sold it with the way he fell and the sounds he made.  He was not flopping, every charge was a legitimate call, but he made sure the officials noticed it.  And in that small setting, you could hear the lift that it gave his team as well as the frustration that it caused their opponents.

My nephew knows that this is most likely the end of his organized basketball career, yet it was refreshing to see him concentrate so hard on a part of the game that most kids his age ignore, because it's not the part of the game you see on Sportscenter or read about in the paper. 

I'm biased, of course, as he is my only nephew, but I don't worry about his future.  His performance on the court mirrored the way he lives his life, paying attention to the smaller things that most of us ignore so that he helps others feel good about themselves.  He achieves success without advertising it, and everyone around him benefits.  I don't know many people his age who do that. 

I don't know may people of any age who do that.


No comments: