Sunday, April 13, 2008
Did She Or Didn't She
Yes, indeed, we all live vicariously through our children.
Their failures hurt us, the parents, as if we had experienced the failure ourselves. When they are sad, we are sad. When our children are happy, we are pleased. When they succeed, we feel successful ourselves.
I’ve often wondered how the parent of an Olympic gold medal winner feels, or the parent of someone who wins a football Super Bowl or baseball World Series. It doesn’t even have to be sports. Imagine how a parent feels if their offspring wins a Nobel Peace Prize or a Pulitzer Prize. Even though the parent doesn’t put in the tremendous effort required of the accomplishment, they have put in considerable time of their own in the raising of their progeny. The satisfaction they feel is probably equal to that of their child.
At least that is how I feel.
My daughter is a champion. She played like a champion. She won like a champion. And I have never been happier.
Indeed, Maribel and her college basketball team won the final game of the tournament, 71 to 64. It was a close and well contested game throughout, but Maribel’s team took control in the last ten minutes. Maribel’s co-captain, Amber, hit a three-point shot to give her team the lead by one point, and they protected that lead as fiercely as a mother bear guards her cubs. Maribel blocked a shot, then scored on the other end after rebounding a missed shot. Then she drew a foul on the other team. Then she got another offensive rebound, fired a pass to Amber, who found another open teammate for a three-pointer. After the other team scored, Maribel got the ball in the low post and was fouled. She made both free-throws (she was 33 of 35 from the free-throw line for the tournament, which is a new record). The other team called time-out with about six minutes left, with Maribel’s team leading by six points.
Those last six minutes more resembled amateur wrestling than basketball. The intensity was high, and there were no easy shots. What made me so proud, though, was how my daughter responded. Even though the other team surrounded her with two or three defenders, Maribel called for the ball each time her team was on offense. She was patient, read the defense superbly, and always found a way to get a good shot or find an open teammate. She was fouled three times in the last four minutes, and hit all six free throws. And she was a rock on defense, forcing the other team to shoot only perimeter shots.
The lead was still six with one minute remaining. If you are waiting for a suspenseful ending, I’m afraid that you will have a long wait. Maribel’s team was fouled twice and made four free throws, extending the lead to ten. The other team missed a couple of shots, and the outcome became certain. The other team hit a three-pointer as time was expiring, settling the final score.
Maribel had 24 points and 12 rebounds. She held the opposing center, who was averaging almost 20 points a game, to 6 points. But most importantly, she acted like a leader. She was always encouraging her teammates, even if they made a mistake. She pointed out every good play, no matter how small. She never let them stop believing in themselves.
The celebration afterwards was raucous. Players and fans were embracing each other, running around the court. After the initial cheer, Maribel and Amber made sure that their team found each player on the opposing team to congratulate them, and they had played valiantly and shown that they were worthy of being in the championship game. I was so overwhelmed that I simply remained in my seat, taking in the entire scene. I was especially proud of my daughter. She was even interviewed by ISPN.
The last month has been quite the whirlwind. Since then, life has been forced to return to normal. Maribel will now concentrate on finishing her class, graduating, and getting on with the rest of her life. She had phoned the other night to express the fact that she hasn’t even considered what she will do once school finishes and she receives her degree. That probably means that she will once again be a permanent resident of the Spanko household.
But that’s okay. I look forward to having a champion in my house.
For now, life is good. My job is secure, my wife is wonderful, my health is decent, and my daughters are talented and intelligent, not pregnant or in jail. Spring is here, the flowers are blooming, the grass is growing. And Maribel’s basketball team won the championship. I think that I can say it now. Get ready……..
That is just fantastic.