This week Marissa had the opportunity to participate in a basketball camp at one of our local high schools. I signed her up for the camp for two reasons (1) one of the coaches was one of Marissa's past teachers and (2) I love basketball. When I paid the registration fee, I figured that I am paying for all of this money for her to be a spectator at basketball camp, just knowing that she would not really participate. Boy was I wrong.
The first day when Marissa got home, she said, "I need a hoop, I have to practice". Each day Marissa has come home with some new skill that I never thought she'd be able to do. She is the smallest in the camp. (Remember, she is 7 years old and only weighs 42 pounds.) But that doesn't stop her, the coach said "practice". We even got our first sports injury, a swollen right eye and busted lip. (Yeah!)
Today, the coaches held an Award Ceremony at the end of camp. As I was in the gym sitting on the bleachers looking at the other girls play, I went back to my olden days of basketball. The smell and the sound. It brought back so many memories that it took everything I had not to get on that floor and start dribbling. As the coaches and camp participants exhibited some of the skills, my dream of raising a basketball player wavered. As they were handing out awards, Coach Trent said that not every girl would get a trophy or a medal, they had to work for it. As she was going through the awards, I appreciated the value of not giving an award for girls that might have not taken the game seriously. As she went on, I became comfortable in my seat and cheered along with the other families watching their girls receive awards. Then Coach Trent announced the "Sportsmanship Award". But, unlike others, she said something to the effect that "this girl is an honor to know" and then called Marissa's name. Everyone clapped louder and I began to well up at this very special moment in her life. Marissa had no idea what it meant or what it meant to others. In fact, she refused to get her picture taken with it, but I realized how big my "little" basketball player was in moment. Marissa has a very special friend, name Gretchen. Gretchen made sure that before I left I understood that she had earned that trophy and it wasn't just given to her.
I am so thankful for Coach Trent, Coach Koenig and Coach Cruz. They took Marissa under their wing and opened their hearts and spoiled her some during the camp. Even the girls in the camp, learned about Marissa and that just because you have a disability doesn't mean anything. Marissa understood everything they said to her. In fact tonight as I was cleaning, she was yelling behind me "run, run, run" "don't stand there you need to run, get the ball". "Really, Marissa, I am vacuuming". Then she says to me just before I put her to bed, "when are you going to play basketball with me". Dream come true.