March is one of my favorite times of the year – the trees are blooming, the air is warming and the balls are bouncing – the basketballs that is! March is NCAA tournament time! I’m from Indiana and if there’s one thing we Hoosiers love, it’s basketball! We’re taught to love it from any early age, just like we’re taught to read and write. I’ll never forget that night in 1987 when the IU Hoosiers won the final game. I was a senior at a smaller university in Southern Indiana and a friend and I were passionately cheering the team on to victory as the last snow of the year bucketed down outside. When the final buzzer rang, declaring the Hoosiers, the champions, my friend and I wanted nothing more than to run out to our car and drive straight to Bloomington to join in the celebration. But we both remembered what our mothers would say as we looked out at the six inches-and-growing snowfall outside and decided to stay put. We celebrated right where we were – all night long. We loved basketball. We loved our Hoosiers. And we were happy!!
I moved away from Indiana over twenty years ago, but Hoosier Hysteria is still part of who I am. And when March approaches, I anxiously look forward to watching a plethora of great ballgames. I love the squeak of the shoes on the hardwood. I love the hurried talk of the announcer as the ball goes inside. I love the long roar of the crowd when a three pointer is hit. But what I really love is watching a well-coached team work together like one brain with five pair of shoes. Each one of the five players know their role. Each one of the players know what to do and where to go when a play is called and they know what to do when the defense responds in certain ways – set a pick, kick outside for the three, pass into the paint, alley-oop over the middle. To me, watching a good basketball team is a watching a thing of beauty.
As a sat down today to watch the first round of the tournament, I realized for the first time how much a basketball game is like life, more particularly, the life of my family. I have a great family – a supportive, loving husband and three kids who are not only incredible people now, but who I know will grow into incredible adults. And then there’s me – wife and mother – roles I take very seriously and work harder at than any “paying” job I’ve ever had.
Just like a basketball team is on a mission to win a game – my family is on a mission to win also. But our goal isn’t to win a game, it’s to win at life. Now, of course my family isn’t out to “beat” anyone else. To us, winning at life means enjoying life, making the most of it, living it and loving it to the greatest of our abilities. We go about “playing” our “game” in many ways similar to the way a basketball team goes about playing their game – we work hard to understand our teammates’ strengths and weaknesses. We’re there to pick our “player” up when they fall. We delight in our successes together and cry together when we suffer a loss. We work together as a team, accepting that the game is not just about us, but about our team. We know we can’t always take every shot, but need to pass the ball off sometimes – we know that we can’t always have our own way or do, and have, everything we want, but that we have to make sacrifices for the success of the team – our family.
And just as a basketball team has an opponent who tries to keep it from its goal of winning the game, I feel like my family has opponents who try to keep us from winning at ours’ – the media tries to tell my children what they should be doing or wearing. Classmates try to tell them that it isn’t cool to be so close to their family. People without the same morals as us try to sway us from doing what we know is right.
Every day is a new game and every day we face new opponents. But our team is strong – we huddle up and remind each other about how we play our game and what our ultimate goal is. We don’t hold grudges or get angry when one of our players misses a shot – that is, get’s a little off track. We’re there to pick that player up, give him some encouragement, and tell him to get back out there and give it another try. We are a team. We are strong. We know what our goal is! We will win. We will be victorious! We will do the dance of celebration together! We are family!!!!!
And one more thing … GO UNC!!!
Sonya May, President, Choose JOy, Inc