Thursday, 20 November 2014

#5 On The Court, #1 In Your Heart

I've been sitting on this story for a little while not knowing how it would end. Carmen made the basketball team at her high school today, and my goodness she deserved it!

Carmen with a friend and teammate

This fall Carmen signed up to play community basketball as preparation for high school tryouts. In community basketball everyone gets to play, so the real question is which team will you play for? There were enough girls in our zone signed up to make 4 teams, and then 3 evaluations to attend in order to be sorted into teams. The first evaluation time was assigned randomly, but the second evaluation time was assigned based on placement and Carmen got sorted into the bottom half. She was told that her defensive skills were good enough to make Team 1, however her ball handling and 'seeing the floor' was holding her back. This was pretty devastating news at the time, but really, getting sorted down like that was the best thing that ever happened to her. She took that feedback and got to work. She got sorted back up to the top half, she thinks maybe she was even considered for Team 1, but ultimately landed in Team 2.

The work didn't stop there! Carmen put everything she had into her practises and into her community team. Carmen has a unique ability to influence the culture on a team, and through that influence the entire team united in a special way. I watched her do it. There was this one particularly grumpy and negative girl, and Carmen made sure that whenever that girl was subbed off she heard congratulations from Carmen on how well she was playing. If Carmen was on the bench when a time out was called, she stood up and walked out on the court to give '5' to each of her teammates as they gathered around the coach. Pretty soon the whole team picked up on these practises of sincere compliments and support. It was magical. As it turned out, Team 2 (The Wildcats - yes from HSM - yes Carmen's idea - yes more team building) went undefeated in the season playing Div 1 teams from across the city, and last week in playoffs won over Team 1 from their own zone.

Then this week basketball got more serious, and maybe a little less fun with school tryouts. It was tense! Carmen went from confident after the first tryout, to unsure after the second, to hopeful after the third, and she suffered a little each time a friend was cut. I'm convinced her ultimate success of making the team comes back to those community evaluations showing her that she had work to do. I'm especially proud that she took that experience and learned how valuable that kind of feedback can be. She told me that after every tryout this week she went to the coach and asked what the coach would like to see her do better tomorrow. I think that's pretty amazing, and a huge life lesson. Imagine from the age of 15 learning to seek out suggestions for improvement, and then working on your revealed weaknesses. No ego, no hurt feelings, just grateful for the feedback. Reminds me of a scripture, actually. 

Ether Chapter 12
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Keep it up, Carmen. I'm so proud.