Born and raised in Indiana, I was recruited to play college basketball in the 1960’s. I was injured sophomore year, gave up, and joined the hippy generation. Later, as a father, I thought it would be a good idea to relive my basketball glory through my daughters.
I should note here that my wife and I did our best to raise strong, independent young women. We wanted them to be able to survive, and even thrive, in life. I guess I didn’t think this one through very well.
When daughter #1 was fourteen (she’s now 35), I coached my first girl’s rec basketball team. She was one of my starting forwards, a big, strong young lady who didn’t take any grief. I had the flu that night, and we lost badly. During the lineup for the after-game handshake, one of the girls on the other team called my daughter a name and pinched her. They ended up punching it out and had to be separated. I’m thinking I should have paid more attention to that night’s events and got the message. But, apparently I’m not too bright when it comes to basketball. I blame Indiana for that.
I coached daughter #1’s rec team for two years. Then I had the conversation with my daughter.
Daughter #1, “Dad, I’m not really into basketball. I’m more of a swimmer. I’m going to join the swim team.”
Me, “But, you’re a good basketball player, a strong rebounder. Why not give it some more time?”
The next year, my wife and I started driving daughter #1 to the YMCA pool every morning at 5:30 AM before school for swim team practice. We spent countless hours sitting by pool after pool, watching her swim.
When daughter #2 was in middle school, I coached her rec basketball team (do you see a pattern forming?). She had a good jump shot, and was a decent scorer; I was beside myself. She played on the junior varsity, and in one game she scored in double figures and led the team to victory against their greatest rival, whom they had never beaten before. I was in basketball heaven. She made the varsity, and when she was a junior and it was her time to shine, we had the conversation.
Daughter #2, “Dad, I’m not really into basketball. I’m more of a soccer player. I’m going to quit the basketball team so I can focus on soccer.”
Me, “But, you’re a good basketball player, a strong scorer. Why not give it more time?”
The next year, she was the star defensive player on the soccer team, and she was very good. My wife and I enjoyed watching her play, but I had fallen hard from basketball heaven.
When daughter #3 was in grade school, I coached her rec team (notice how I tried to get to this one earlier in life?). She went to a private Christian school, where they had a good girls’ basketball team, but not enough girls for a junior varsity and a varsity team. So, she was on the varsity bench from the time she was 14.
She became an awesome scorer, with a deadeye jump shot from three-point range, and she was good at all facits of the game. I was in basketball heaven again. Then, her sophomore year the varsity went to Christian school state finals, she played in the championship game, and scored 14 points in the first half. I was floating above the bleachers, and my wife had to keep pulling me back to earth.
The next year, all of the upper class girls on that team graduated. There were mainly very young girls on the team, barely enough for a team at all. We had the conversation.
Daughter #3, “Dad, I’m not happy with basketball anymore. There’s barely enough girls left for a team, and the ones that are there won’t play team ball. I want to quit playing basketball and focus on my studies, and soccer.”
Me, “But, you’re an awesome basketball player, an incredible scorer. Why not give it more time?”
For the next two years, she had a very high GPA and enjoyed her time on the soccer team.
My daughters are all grown up now, and I’m proud of the successful women that they have become. As I look back on those years, I realize that they taught me an invaluable lesson. I was trying to make their middle and high school years about me, to relive my basketball glory through my daughters. I wanted to experience that sense of winning through them. But, being strong, independent young women, they refused to let me push them into doing something they didn’t want to do. I’m even prouder of them for doing that, for standing up for what they wanted.
As for me, I finally realized it was silly to try to relive my basketball glory through my daughters. it took me a while to find somewhere else to get that feeling of joy back that I felt watching them play ball. I’ve found my joy in writing. Since retiring, I started writing and publishing murder mysteries, and I get tremendous joy from creating each new book. So, all I can say is, basketball might be king in Indiana, but in my family independent women and writing rule.