Crying at Middle School Basketball Games

Yesterday, I did what all parents are excited to do on a late Friday afternoon after a full work week: I attended a middle school girls basketball game. The team played well, perhaps the best they've ever played this season, but they still lost.

That's not why I found myself briefly tearing up while sitting on those wooden bleachers. No, I teared up because, at some point, I realized that I was witnessing an answer to prayer. Right in front of my eyes, my seventh grader was running up and down the court, her cheeks flushed pink with exertion, her hair streaming behind her in a long ponytail.

During the Covid years, there had been no activities. Like millions of other kids, my own children were lulled into sedentary lifestyles: school on Zoom, attached to screens, no real socialization. Among other things, I had prayed that they would have opportunities to be active again. And this year, my seventh grader has stepped out and tried not just one, but two, brand new sports: soccer in the fall and now basketball this winter.

I realize that it's just middle school team sports. But at the same time, it's much more. It's healthy exercise, it's connection with friends, it's learning grit and resilience, it's time management, it's heeding instruction from coaches, it's managing adversity when you're benched or losing, it's growing in teamwork, it's pushing yourself to your limits, it's discovering new interests, it's being brave to try something new.

It's all those things. And that's why, from my uncomfortable seat on the wooden bleachers surrounded by other parents and a wild pack of middle school boys who had stayed after school to cheer on the girls, I teared up momentarily.

Because it's not just middle school basketball. It's seeing my daughter running up and down a court, and remembering that this is exactly what I had prayed for.

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