“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV)
That Bible verse echoed in my mind last night in the gymnasium of Homewood High School as a season in my son’s life and the life of our family ended. Our Briarwood Lions lost to Pelham in the area tournament, ending our season and the high school basketball career of our oldest son, David. It was not the easiest of nights for our family. You cannot understand it until you have a night like that one.
It was an emotional night. On the way to the game, Becky and I talked about the first time David played basketball – in 2nd grade Upward Basketball. He did so well that the next year he got recruited to play on an RA basketball league team! Every winter for the last ten years, we have been in the stands cheering for our son and his team. It’s just been part of our life. We do not know anything else. There has always been another season – “next season maybe we can…” Now it’s over. There is no next season. That’s hard. The looks on the faces of the other senior parents (and the tears) told me they were feeling the same emotions.
It was a night to remember and celebrate our son. We remembered that undefeated RA team back in 3rd grade – with David being one of the leading scorers. We remembered that three-pointer David made at the buzzer in 8th grade against Whitesburg Middle. We remembered the night up at Skyline he was chosen All-Area as a 9th grader. We remembered his 34 point 20 rebound game as a 10th grader at Paint Rock Valley. We remembered his tw0-handed slam dunk in a game against Shelby County in 11th grade.
It was a night to see once more how basketball has helped my son grow up. He learned to play on a team. He learned to respect authority and accept instruction from his coaches. He learned that life (officiating) isn’t always fair, and you get mistreated. He learned to come back from failure after losses, and not to take success for granted after wins. Our family moved to Birmingham after David’s 10th grade year, which meant he moved from playing 1A basketball to playing 6A basketball. The players were bigger, stronger, and faster. Points and rebounds were much harder to get. He wasn’t “the man” on this team. His new team played a different style, and was filled with experienced players who had been in the program for years. He struggled at first – and his playing time reflected that struggle. However, David hung in there, kept working and became a good contributor off the bench during the last few games of his junior year. This season, he started every game and was a key player at a 6A school. Yes, David learned about basketball, but he mostly learned about life. He grew up. You can’t put a price tag on that.
It was a night to be grateful for coaches and teammates. We don’t have coach horror stories. Every coach David has had loved him and influenced him in a positive way. David played many years with the same set of teammates up in Huntsville at Whitesburg Christian Academy. The memories made with those young men will never be forgotten. They are a treasure. Fittingly, those boys played their last game last night as well. David, Tanner, and Andrew went out together – just a few miles apart. When David walked through the doors of Briarwood Christian School his new teammates immediately accepted him even though most of them had been together for years. They let David into the circle, and their kindness to him at an awkward time will never be forgotten. David’s teammates at Briarwood are some of the finest young men I know, and I am proud he got to go to battle with them.
It was a night to treasure friends. Parents of athletes have a special bond. You spend so many hours together in the stands. You eat so many meals together after road games. You live and die together every time the whistle blows. As the clock ticked down last night, I treasured the many games I sat by my great Huntsville friend Eddie Richardson as we – ahem – educated officials on some of the finer points of the game of basketball. I also treasured the looks on our wives faces! Here at Briarwood, the “pre-game analysis” with Ricky Miskelley and the detailed x’s and o’s breakdowns with Jeff Travis have been priceless.
Finally, it was a night to look ahead to the next season. It won’t be a basketball season, but the next season of life for our son and our family. It won’t be like this season that just ended, but I am praying it will be just as blessed and just as rewarding. God is good.