Saturday, February 27, 2010

Whose side are we on, anyway?

(Team mates face off on the court)

Life races by at such a frantic pace.

Events that garnered attention only a few hours ago are quickly trumped by the red-hot event of the moment. I’ve been trying (for days) to write about the blizzard that blew through last weekend and I guess I’ll eventually get to it, but the basketball games of this weekend have edged their way to the top of the queue.

Last night, after a rip-roaring evening of high school basketball, I walked home under a (long awaited) crystal-clear sky. Bright white moonlight splashed right through the big dipper over my head onto every snow-covered rooftop in the village. Smoke stacks billowed their hot breath into an easterly wind. My face was cold, really cold, but my head was full of thoughts that left me feeling warm inside, almost down to my toes.

There is something mysterious, maybe even beautiful, about basketball in a bush village. The fact that it exists at all is a kind of miracle because it is impractical and unpredictable on almost every level. The unexpected is often the only thing you can expect with any certainty. This weekend the scoreboard clock ceased to function during the third quarter of a game, so the person running the clock had to use a stopwatch and announce the time on a microphone....and nobody complained! Referees and coaches tried to keep the players on track and aware of game time, but once I overheard a player respond to a whistle by running up to her coach and asking, "Is that the end of the game?"

Unlike small towns on the road system, games between bush village schools require flights. That’s expensive (really expensive). So games are few and home games are fewer. Opportunities for parents and community members to actually see their children play are rare and visiting teams usually play without the luxury of fans to cheer them on.

Games always require at least one overnight stay (bad weather may necessitate longer). That means baggage and sleeping bags will adorn the floors of classrooms around the school.

This weekend it meant providing dinner on Friday night, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, and snacks in-between. It takes a lot of work, both paid and voluntary, but anyone who attends one of these events can tell you that the money, time, and effort are all well spent.

Somewhere in the mix of the challenges and inconvenience interesting and sometimes surprising things spring forth. Things like kindness and generosity and respect and ingenuity.

How do you put a price tag on those?

This weekend, the opposing school turned up with a small girl’s team and only two boys. Their boy’s team automatically forfeited due to lack of players and that could have been the end to a very expensive story—but it wasn’t.

Players from our Eagles teams, both boys and girls, willingly donned Qavvik jerseys and made up the difference on the court. And they didn’t stop there. Not only did they wear the other team’s uniforms…the borrowed players put their whole hearts into winning…for the other side.

(beginning the first overtime)

One game went into double overtime and was won in the final five seconds with a single shot by one of our boys wearing the Qavvik’s colors. Spectators enthusiastically cheering for both teams went wild at the buzzer. Fans, players, and coaches all agreed that it was one of the best games they’d ever seen. No one seemed to mind (or even remember) that the credit for the win went to the other team.

It was just fun.

And that makes me smile.

I think it says something about a game, a school, and a community when such cooperativeness can be fostered alongside the drive to win. Of course our teams want to win as much as any other, but sometimes basketball really is about the simple joy of getting to play.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What a Hiatus!



I'm not sure how it happened, but a whole month has flown by without my noticing. How does one lose a month, exactly?

Part of the problem, I think, might be the weather. I guess that sounds ridiculous. How does one blame a bad case of blog neglect on the weather, exactly?

Well, maybe one can't, but I'm certainly going to try.

Here's my thinking...

1. No internet @ home = blogging done @ school.

2. Cold, windy, blizzardy weather = staying warm & cozy @ home.

3. Warm & cozy @ home = less blogging

(a month less, to be exact)

And there you have it.

Procrastination elementally justified. Works for me!

But whether being snowed in, snowed under, or just plain snowed is a reasonable excuse or not, the truth is that I miss this space. I miss chatting with friends and sharing what's happening...however trivial and small those happenings might be.

So...I'm going to dig out all the photos and thoughts that have been buried and get this blog back in business.

And if, at some point, things begin to drift up again...


I'll just have to find a bigger shovel!