Saturday, January 21, 2006

My daughter is my hero!

We signed her up to play basketball late last fall. At the tryouts, there were only five girls officially registered, and she was one of them. She began the season with practices on Tuesday evening. which was perfect for us because she has horseback riding on Monday afternoons and junior high youth group on Wednesday nights. Over the next three weeks, 12 more girls signed up, so the league commissioner decided to split the group into two small teams. We asked that she remain on the Tuesday team. No such luck. She was placed on a team that practiced on Wednesday. Again we asked if she could remain on the Tuesday team because of our weekly conflict. No such luck; they told us she could practice with the Tuesday team, but play games with the Wednesday team. Ridiculous! Willing to forego the beginning of her youth group gathering every week, Kristiana decided to make the complete transition to her new team and practice with them. Then the league switched their practices to Friday nights from 8:30 until 10 PM. Their games are on Saturday, sometimes as early as noon! This is how they treat one of only five girls who followed the league-ordained procedure from before the start of the season. Outrageous!

Fortunately, Kristiana is a far better person than I am. She plays her heart out every weekend. She gets the rebound and protects it from the reaching, slapping hands of her opponents. Whenever the opposite team's shooters step into the key, she tries to block their shots. She takes as many lay ups as she can. She sinks her foul shots as best she can. She steps out on the offensive players when they hang out near the three-point line. She leaves every ounce of strength she has on the court every time she plays. But at the end of every game, she climbs into the minivan with sweat on her brow and tears in her eyes.

Today her team lost its fifth straight game. They are 0-5.

Later, as she walked into the garage carrying her sneakers and a gift she'd thoughtfully chosen for a good friend's birthday, she slipped and fell, landing hard on her right hip. She earned every one of those tears. After she gathered her possessions off the floor of the garage, she entered the house with so much poise and dignity that Steve and Daniel didn't realize what had happened. Not one to garner anyone's pity, she didn't even tell them what had happened. She's such a brave girl.

What makes me most proud of her strength of character is knowing that what is happening to her this season, what happened to her this afternoon is no anomoly. Kristiana has a long history of doing and saying the right thing because it's the right thing to do. One night last season, her basketball team lost by 30 points to the team led by the man who had coached her for two previous seasons. Not once during the game did he take out his top scorer. At the end of the game as we walked out of the gym, he made a comment to her that was meant to lend humor to the situation. I responded with angry, sharp words. On the way home from the game, through her tears, Kristiana said, "In a game like that, Mom, I'd rather be on the losing team than on the winning team. What they did wasn't right." The good news is that Kristiana's team went on to beat his team twice later in the season. (See how mean-spirited I can be??!!) Her mother ought to sit at her feet and learn from her more often, rather than the other way around.

Tender of heart, soft of voice, compassionate towards all, Kristiana is my hero. She never speaks of quitting the team. She never asks to skip games or practices out of frustration. She likes all the girls on her team and speaks highly of each one, even the ones whose performances on the court contribute to the team's dismal record. I know that when they play again tomorrow afternoon, she will play as hard as ever. (Yes, you read that right; they had practice on Friday night, a game on Saturday, and another game on Sunday of the same weekend! These people are absolutely nuts!)

Me? I want to clobber the refs when they miss calls. I want to yank the bricklayers on her team off the court and leave the best girls on the court all game long. And most of all, I want them to win the rest of their games this season. Unfortunately, that is highly unlikely.

I hope that when I grow up, I will be like you, Kristiana.
I love you, sweet girl.

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