This winter through our church, my boyfriend and I are coaching a 5th and 6th grade boys basketball team—and this past weekend we played our first game.

We’ve had four practices leading up to this, two of which I had to run by myself. Four practices prior to a game is not very many—especially when your audience is 11 year old boys.

Here’s what I’ve learned though. If you act like you know what you’re doing, people will actually listen to you—11 year old boys included. It ends up that when it comes to basketball, I do actually know what I’m doing—so that helps, but as silly as it sounds, it can be a little bit intimidating to stand in a circle surrounded by ten 11 year old boys.

Since this league is through church, every Tuesday night before practice, we do a 10-15 minute devotion and these first four weeks it has focused on courage. The boys were asked to memorize Joshua 1:9, in hopes that it would help them to remember that no matter how hard things get, both on and off the court—God is always with them. We were doing an exercise talking about how hard it is to do the right thing sometimes, because the right thing is seldom the “popular” thing—and one of our boys started talking about how you should stand up for people who are too afraid to stand up for themselves and I was a little bit floored. How is it that an 11 year old boy gets it—but so many of the rest us don’t? Did we when we were 11 and now we’re just jaded because of how ugly the world can be?

One of the other boys talked about how if you see someone doing something wrong—you should give them the opportunity to tell an authority figure about what they did wrong before you tattle on them—that way they learn about accountability and will feel better about coming clean. Ummm…what? At what point in our lives do we forget about this stuff?

And still another one talked about how it feels to be the target of someone’s meanness, and how it’s easier to let them say what they want than it is to speak up. And how he knew that other boys felt bad, but he didn’t blame them for not standing up for him–because by doing that THEY’D become the target. Wow.

My whole point here is that these boys are helping me to learn things too and I don’t think that I’d planned on that. I planned on being a mentor to them, teaching them basketball skills and life skills at the same time. At the same time though—they’re teaching me about courage, overcoming obstacles, and compassion. All this after a month—and we still have two more to go.

Did I mention we won 26-10 on Saturday? That’s right. So not only are these boys teaching me valuable life lessons behind the scenes—they’re straight ballers too. And for those two reasons, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.

  1. wmarsau says:

    This is a really special group of boys.

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