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The Biggest Winner

We are smack in the middle of basketball season right now. It’s my favorite sport to watch our kids play, mostly because you don’t have to bring your own chair. You also don’t have to worry if it’s going to rain, be too hot, be too cold…and I’ll tell you, having those bleachers in a warm building…it’s all good.

Currently we have 3 kids playing on 4 different teams. Caroline has transitioned from playing to score keeping…and I didn’t realize how much I’d miss getting to see her play. It takes some planning to coordinate all their schedules, especially with Bill coaching 2 of their teams and assistant coaching the other, but we love every second of watching them play.

The playoffs will be here before we know it and when that comes, it’s games every single night until you lose two games in a row. Double Elimination. Caroline has played in 2 different championship games over the years, and Brittany one.

Carolines first championship game though is the one I’ll never forget. We were playing on the “silver” level meaning we were the second tier of teams. As one parent put it…. “better to be a winner in the silver bracket than a loser in the gold.”

And here’s what happened:

We played against this one team during the regular season. I’m not sure who won or lost because Beth Moore (you know, the real one, who does all the Bible studies!) was there. My mom was there too and after quite the going back and forth session on “is it her, is it not?” we decided to ask….and sure enough, it was her. We have the picture to prove it. She had come to watch her good friend, Kendall Tate, play ball.

Kendall and her sister were on the same team and their dad was the coach. Now I know there are a lot of great basketball coaches, but he has to be one of the best. You see, he played Kendall. Didn’t seem to matter what the score was, he had her on the court. And you should have seen her teammates cheer. No matter what she did, from what I saw, it was all encouragement, all the time. Props to those girls as well.

You see, Kendall has downs syndrome (and I later learned has battled leukemia as well). She wasn’t a great player, but I don’t think anyone had a better time on the court than she did. She’d raise her arms to cheer when her teammates got a basket and she gave it her all on the court.

We met them again in the playoffs but like before, I can’t remember who won. When all was said and done though, it was their team that we would face off against in the final championship game.

And as much as I wanted our team to win, I wanted their team to win more. I wanted them to win as a tribute to that great family who signed Kendall up for basketball, I wanted them to win for that great dad that played her like a champ, I wanted them to win for those sweet girls on her team that patted Kendall on the back and cheered her on. And I also wanted them to win for our girls to see that there are lots of things in life more important than who wins the game.

And win they did. In a nail biting, down to the last second game.

And I cried.

But not because we lost.

But because, on that day, everyone won.