I promise, I will not become one of them | PostIndependent.com

I promise, I will not become one of them

It was one of the most exciting, gripping and action-packed basketball games I’ve ever watched.

Possession of the ball went back and forth, back and forth. Coaches strategized as players huddled intently between fierce moments on the court. Each player was at her peak performance of the season.

In the end, and after a come-from-behind rally, only two points separated the winners from the second-place team.

No, it wasn’t the WBA, the NCAA finals, or even high school basketball.

The game, played last Saturday morning at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, was between two fifth- and sixth-grade city of Glenwood Springs Youth Hoops teams.

Since my daughter was one of the players, I naturally sat quietly on the bench with all the other content and relaxed parents, silently urging her to get the rebound, keep the ball in bounds, get between her opponent and the basket.

Quietly? Content? Relaxed?

Yeah, right.

Now I know where those maniacal parents who scream at the referee for erroneous calls and at the coaches because their kid didn’t get enough play time come from.

They’re parents like me.

Since my daughter’s first refereed competition in the third grade, I’ve gone into each game promising myself I’ll sit quietly on the bleachers. I won’t say a thing that might distract her.

But I invariably find myself blurting out instruction, from that first year (“Your basket’s at the other end of the gym”), on into the first year of the city recreation league (“Pivot on ONE foot”), to this, her final year in the recreational league (“Three seconds in the key, Jamie”).

The words just come out. I start by whispering (“Come on, get the rebound”), which turns to talking to anyone sitting next to me (“She could have had that rebound so easily”), to yelling (“Let’s go, girls, DEFENSE!”).

I can’t help it.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to keep from becoming one of those obnoxious, boisterous, loud-mouthed parents who can’t keep their trap shut.

Fortunately, I have a lot of time to think about this. My daughter is still at the age where her competition is between friends and classmates. These are the learning years.

At this age, most of the parents cheer every time a basket is made, regardless of which team the player is on. It’s just plain fun to see these girls do so well and grow so quickly, not only in height, but in ability.

At this age, the referee doesn’t blow the whistle for every little foul or travel or toe-over-the-line infraction. The game would be stopped almost constantly. The ref has to pick and choose so that when play does stop because of a blatant blunder, all the players get an explanation of why the one player was fouled so that they can all learn. And the parents have to accept the call.

I don’t think that will happen next year.

Am I going to be able to control my loud mouth when she gets into serious competition against other schools? Against longtime rivals? In championship games? When she gets called for a foul she didn’t commit?

My daughter first played organized basketball in the second grade. I’ll never forget the clusters of girls running the ball up and down the carpeted court at Sopris Elementary School, followed by a referee who only stopped the game when the ball went sailing out of bounds. They’ve come a long way. Each year, they get a little better and a little wiser.

After the game, my daughter explained to me that her team played more of a one-on-one defense while the other team played more of a zone defense.

“Right,” I said. “I noticed that, too.”

I can’t help but be excited for her. She first signed up for basketball because her friends wanted her to. Now she signs up because she wants to. A week before practices began in February. she turned to me one afternoon while driving to the store and glared. “You DID sign me up for basketball, didn’t you?” she gnarled.

“Yes,” I told her, then promptly signed her up the next morning.

Like me, she’s tall and getting taller every day. She seems to know that this sport just may be her calling. She knows the game carries the risk of injury and will hold many disappointing losses. She knows what she’s doing. But it’s not her I’m worried about.

I just don’t want to embarrass her by becoming one of those screaming parents.

In the last moments of Saturday’s game, a mom from the other team turned to me and said, “Can you imagine next year when all these girls are on the same team?”

“Yes,” I said. “I sure can.”

Next year, it really gets exciting.

And I’m going to keep my mouth shut.

Tamie Meck is a staff writer for the Post Independent. Her column runs on Tuesdays.

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