A few months ago we made the decision to sign Elliott up to play basketball this year. He'd always wanted to, but it just never worked out. We'd heard good things about the Upward basketball program one of the local churches runs, so we went with that.
Somewhere in the registration process I made a critical error that came to light when we received confirmation that Elliott had been placed on a team. That wasn't necessarily a surprise. Something told me when I registered him he would land on a team. But it was a heart vault into a triple somersault shock to discover I was going to be the coach of the team.
I remember checking a box indicating I'd be willing to help out when I signed Elliott up. I was thinking mop the floors, donate a basketball or two, maybe help out at practice chasing a few of the 3 zillion errant passes that surely criss-cross the gym air when a bunch of 5 to 7 year old boys and girls suddenly decide they want to be like Mike.
I told Katie the news, "I'm going to be Elliott's basketball coach." She was incredibly supportive: "Oh my God, do you know anything about coaching basketball?!?!" I guess it was hard for her to look through my 5'8", basketball shaped exterior to see the next Phil Jackson just waiting to storm Hanover County. I can't blame her. I don't think we'd ever discussed my days of high school basketball stardom. Maybe if she'd known just how close coach came, and I'm not talking just once, to actually letting me get in a game, she'd of thought differently.
When I got the word I was going to be the coach, I had the "are you out of your mind" reply typed with my finger firmly applied to the send button, but something stopped me. I'm not sure what.
So we had our first practice last week. It went nothing like I expected. There were few errant passes. The kids could actually shoot. And make. The best surprise of all is how well the kids could be still and listen when they had to. Not that I expected a bunch of delinquent kids, but they're 5,6 and 7. I didn't know they knew how to sit still and listen yet. At least not in large group settings and for more than 30 seconds at a time.
Don't get me wrong. I'm nowhere near ready to take the place of my friend Angie Hoggan, Elliott's first grade teacher, but I think I can manage a couple of months leading his basketball team. A couple of the other dads felt sorry for me being one of the few solo coaches, so they've volunteered to help out. So between us all, I think an undefeated season is well within our grasp. That is, of course, unless the league decides mid-season to start keeping score.