The Amazing Lesson My Son Taught Me
by Jay Fadden
Last night, Shirley and I brought Ethan to his AAU basketball practice. AAU basketball is for players who want to improve their skills against better competition. For the past few years, Ethan has been asking about AAU, but because of schedules, it never worked out, which disappointed him. Now that Amelia has graduated high school and is off to college, we have more time. So I was thrilled to tell Ethan he could finally play on a team. When I told him, he was over the moon! A smile lit up his face and he gave me a huge hug. His first question to me was whether or not I was serious. When I told him yes, the questions came at a machine gun pace. What team? Where do they practice? Who is on the team? On and on it went for an hour. He would leave the room but come back a few minutes later with another question. But even after all the questions, I must admit that I was happy to see him so excited.
As a player, Ethan has improved a great deal through hard work. When he first started to play as a third grader, he struggled to even hit the bottom of the net with a shot. His dribbling was poor and court awareness nonexistent. In fifth grade, we found out that he has asthma, which has been a challenge for him. Yet he kept working and practicing by himself outside on our hoop in the backyard. As I moved around the house, I could hear the basketball pounding the concrete as he dribbled outside late into the night. He just loved to play and even read books about basketball greats. He continued to improve. He is not the best player or even in the top 3 or 4 on his AAU team, but he can hold his own.
The AAU experience has been great for him and fun for Shirley and me. It is a joy to watch him put so much of himself into the game and work so hard. So here we were on a Tuesday night watching Ethan practice. On defense, he had a focused look. He guarded his man with an intensity that was actually funny to behold. On offense, he ran as hard as he could, and while he did not get the ball that much, he worked hard. Every once in a while he would look over at us and just smile.
To watch Ethan this year as compared to last year is amazing. He has come so far so fast. While he has a long way to go, he is willing to work hard and loves the game. You can learn so much from your children. Watching Ethan, I learned a valuable lesson. You need to be dedicated to improve. Ethan cannot just walk on the court and play. It takes hours of dribbling and shooting week after week and for months on end to improve the slightest bit. Ethan was willing to make that sacrifice, and it is paying off.
In life, nothing is given to us. But through hard work, we can achieve so much more than we ourselves sometimes think we are capable of doing. We need to focus and set goals, whether it is playing a game, being a better parent or friend, or growing in our faith life. It is easy to talk, but it is through action, deeds, and dedication that we succeed and grow.
Ethan will not play in the NBA, but he will know that he worked hard and have no regrets. Time moves quickly and days become years. Reach for stars, whether in sports, family, or faith, and you will never look back on wasted years. Last night, Ethan inspired me!