On Saturday, Kate and some of her teammates found out they were badass.
They’re playing basketball for the YMCA. Shea is coaching them. He’s taught them to run the 3rd and 4th grade version of the Michigan State offense. You should see my girl set a pick. It’s a thing of beauty. And she only had to set it once. The rest of the game, that poor other girl was looking over her shoulder.
As any coach of young girls will tell you, it’s a struggle to get them to be aggressive. Part of it is nature, but part of it is nurture, too. There’s something to that song Sit Still, Look Pretty and if you disagree consider this: Coaches implore boy’s teams to stop shooting and pass. But they implore girl’s teams to stop passing and shoot.
All week, Shea worked with our team on stealing the ball. Because they wouldn’t. Would not. And Kate let go of a contested rebound two weeks ago because it was the other girl’s turn to have it. So every day when she woke up and before she went to bed he said to her “Kate, what do you do if someone sticks the ball in your face?”
“You steal it, dad.”
“That’s right. Then what do you do?”
“You drive for the basket.”
The team we played beat us four times last year because they have a gifted little point guard whose older brothers have taught her well. She was the star of the league because no one would challenge her.
Saturday, Kate stole the ball from her in the first thirty seconds of the game, and it was on. I mean on. As a team, we had over 20 steals and ended that game pink-cheeked, sweaty and winners. Our girls were lit up. You know why?
Because they LIT IT UP and no one told them to slow down, be quiet, or fix their hair.
I can make an argument that the song and dance class Kate takes and her desire to play the guitar and her artistic talents will all contribute to her sense of self-worth and giftedness.
But not the way sports will. Nothing else will ground her strength to her feet and help her hold her space in quite the same way.
Sports will raise her chin, her goals and her voice. And that is why we let her play.
Ok, you got me.
“Let her play”. Ha!
As if we could stop her.