The Big Kid and Basketball Part II
Do I say all of this? No. Do I say any of this? No. I wish I did, but no. Rather I look at my boy, the boy with the huge heart, the lion, and simply smile and say “Yes, Tommy. I am so proud of you. You worked hard. You helped your team. You did great. I am so proud of you. I love you.”
Eight year old boys Saturday morning Gorham recreational basketball has approximately ten games in each season. And for the last five games of Tommy’s first season he excelled.
For these last five games Tommy dominated as he continued to learn and grow. His technique, footwork and most of all … desire … desire to rebound continued to grow and improve. Tommy’s desire to box out, grip it, rip it, clear out and distribute the ball to his teammates grew with each practice, with each game.
Tommy continued to combine the gifts he received from God, with his knowledge of the game, and this powerful desire to be of service to his team. Each game his ability to anticipate when a shot would go up, where a rebound would come off the rim, and the direction an opposing player is likely to move to get the rebound improved to the point where he was being compared by coaches and parents alike to a young Dave Cowens by year end.
And best of all, he smiled and he laughed. For the first time in his life Tommy truly felt part of a team. And he had fun and he had his win. The boy “too big to play with the other kids” had his win.
Tommy also developed a reputation, and no not a reputation due to the adverse impacts of being bullied (by adults in Tommy’s case), but another type of reputation.
Slowly at first, like the first ripple of a pebble penetrating a pristine crystal lake, and then greater and greater as the ripples became waves we began to hear coaches (coaches of other teams) call out to their own players …
“Boys, rebound like number 8” or comment to those nearby “boxing out at 8 years old?” or huffing “how many rebounds does that kid have?” or (my personal favorite) “I can’t even get my high school basketball team to box out!”
Yes, rebounds and boxing out. Coaches of competing teams, coaches of older teams, and of course Tommy’s own coach all began to know Tommy as the eight year old boy who could and would box out and rebound. The kid who did the important things to help his team win.
Tommy Dahlborg, the kid who would rebound.
Riding home after Tommy’s last game of the season the latest volley of coaches feedback still rang in our ears:
“Wow…I wish you played for me!”, “I have never seen anybody attack the boards like you!” and “You are quite a ball player I will be keeping an eye out for you.”
Quite the juxtaposition from “you are too big to play with other kids”.
And as I looked in the rearview mirror I could see Tommy smiling again from ear to ear reliving his latest game, his past season, his win.
And yes, I make like Dick Vermeil and cry and cry and cry .
TO BE CONTINUED …